Afghan president's half-brother denies corruption

Ahmad Wali Karzai Mr Karzai said that mistakes had been made in the past

The half-brother of the Afghan president has denied any involvement in corruption.

In an interview with the BBC, Ahmad Wali Karzai accused "local enemies" and and the Western media of spreading malicious rumours about him.

Mr Karzai, the leader of the provincial council in Kandahar, has been linked to the drug trade and organised crime.

He has strenuously denied the allegations, accusing his critics of "seeking to defame him".

Ahmad Wali Karzai is one of the main power brokers in the province of Kandahar, an area where the Taliban have a strong presence.

In an interview with the BBC, he said that Western officials had now realised that many of the allegations against him were baseless.

'Rumours'

''Western officials have been victims of the negative propaganda against me by my opponents who have an agenda," he said.

Start Quote

If Kandahar became stable, the whole country would be stable”

End Quote Ahmad Wali Karzai

''The Western media want to sell stories and that is why they base their reports on rumours.''

Kandahar, the second biggest city in Afghanistan, is the birthplace of the Taliban movement.

It is also one of the most insecure parts of the country and a key battlefield in the country's war.

''Insurgents and enemies have been targeting Kandahar because of its strategic location and historical importance,'' Mr Karzai said.

''If Kandahar became stable, the whole country would be stable.''

Nato and US forces are planning to launch a big offensive in Kandahar soon.

The West, especially the US, now seems to be taking a softer approach in dealing with President Karzai's influential half-brother in an effort to win his support.

The Afghan government and its international partners see effective local government as a key element of the Kandahar operation.

Ahmad Wali Karzai has been accused of undermining the authority of local officials, including the governor.

Mr Karzai denied that he was influencing government decision-making at the provincial level.

'Big mistake'

But he accepted that mistakes had been made in the past.

US soldier in Kandahar Nato says it will soon launch a big offensive in Kandahar

''My big mistake was to become very close to the government at the beginning. I wasted a lot of time by sitting with government officials," he said.

''I should have kept myself to my real role as the people's representative.''

Mr Karzai was elected as the head of Kandahar's Provincial Council for the second time in 2009.

He describes his role as provincial council head as a bridge between the people and the government.

President Karzai had come under pressure from the international community to remove his half-brother from Kandahar.

The president has defended him and sought proof of his alleged misdeeds.

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