In an interview due to be broadcast tonight on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Margaret Warner talks exclusively to Afghan President Hamid Karzai about corruption, international pressure, and his own competency in government.
Karzai responds to a number of criticisms of his government, most notably the allegations of corruption that have plagued his administration. Below is a transcript of part of the interview:
MARGARET WARNER: You said in your acceptance speech last week that your government had been seriously undermined by corruption. What do you mean by that? What does this corruption consist of?
HAMID KARZAI: Well, when we say corruption, it means the usual corruption in any government, especially in a third world country like Afghanistan, with years of breakdowns and lack of governance, lack of institutions and lack of capacity. Certain laws and procedures and management style that causes corruption, that delays work that causes corruption.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you mean you have to pay for government services?
HAMID KARZAI: Exactly.
MARGARET WARNER: Under the table?
HAMID KARZAI: Under the table. And then we also mean corruption of a different kind which is a lot more serious, which is new to Afghanistan, which is with the arrival of a lot of money to Afghanistan, with the contractual mechanisms, the contracts that go from one to second to third to fourth, the lack of transparency in the award of contracts, the serious corruption in implementing projects, in buying bad quality material, a project that costs $10 million actually receives $3 million or $4 million or even less than that. For that sort of corruption, it's the international community also that shares responsibility with us, and that's what I hope we can correct together.
Karzai goes onto talk defensively of corruption at high levels of government, arguing that his government has already removed corrupt members.
When pushed about whether he will continue to force out corrupt officials, he responds, "We have and we will."
For the full transcript of the interview, please visit The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.