Afghan president's brother accuses US of drug smears

Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s brother denied today that he has ever been involved in the heroin trade, and accused US officials of fabricating allegations to harm the president.

Ahmed Wali Karzai said no one has ever been able to prove that he is involved in drugs.

The issue was revived over the weekend after The New York Times reported that two unnamed US officials said the White House believes Mr Wali Karzai is involved in heroin trafficking.

Mr Wali Karzai said US officials are trying to put political pressure on president Karzai for two reasons: to deflect attention from civilian casualties caused by US military actions and force Mr Karzai’s government to release a prisoner the US wants to talk to.

“Whenever there is a problem between the Afghan president and the international community I have been used as a punching bag,” said Mr Wali Karzai, who called a news conference in Kandahar today to address the article.

“I challenge everyone in the international community and in Afghanistan that they are welcome to take me to court... If they can prove (allegations), I am ready to serve any kind of justice,” Mr Wali Karzai said.

Mr Wali Karzai is chairman of the provincial council in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

Afghanistan produces more than 90% of the world’s opium, the raw ingredient for making heroin. Its market value is in the billions of euros. Most of the drugs are produced in the south, where the insurgency is the most violent.

Mr Wali Karzai suggested that the US officials were retaliating against Mr Karzai because of his criticism of civilian casualties caused by recent US military operations and his calls to regulate the presence of American and other foreign troops in the country.

On August 22, American special forces launched an operation in Herat province that killed 90 civilians and was based on false information, according to Afghan officials.

Shortly after the attack, Mr Karzai ordered a review of whether the US and Nato should be allowed to use airstrikes or carry out raids in villages.

He also called for an updated “status of forces” agreement between the Afghan government and foreign militaries. That review has not yet been completed.

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