A top aide of the Afghan president who is under investigation for corruption is on the payroll of the CIA for quite sometime, US media report said.
Mohamed Zia Salehi, chief of administration for the National Security Council, has been receiving money from the US intelligence service for years, the New York Times reported. Salehi was recently in the spotlight after he was arrested on corruption charges and later released on the reported personal intervention of Karzai. The paper said it was unclear what role Salehi was playing for the CIA, whether information gathering or seeking to advance US interests inside the Afghan government.
The Times said the relationship between Salehi and the CIA "underscores the deep contradictions at the heart of the Obama administration's policy in Afghanistan". On the one hand, American officials demand that Karzai should root out the corruption, while at the same time subsidising the very people suspected of perpetrating it. "The ties underscore doubts about how seriously the Obama administration intends to fight corruption here," The Times pointed out.
"The anti-corruption drive, though strongly backed by the United States, is still vigorously debated inside the administration. Some argue it should be a centrepiece of American strategy, and others say that attacking corrupt officials who are crucial to the war effort could destabilise the Karzai government," it added.
Other prominent Afghans who American officials have said were on the CIA's payroll include the president's half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who is also suspected of being part of the opium trade in the country. The NYT also pointed that earlier this year, the US did not push Karzai to remove his brother from his post as the chairman of the Kandahar provincial council.
The Afghan president is also reported to have sprung Salehi from prison after he was caught taking a bribe in the form of a car for his son in exchange for impeding an American-backed investigation into a company suspected of shipping billions of dollars out of the country for Afghan officials, drug smugglers and insurgents.
Senator John Kerry visited Kabul, last week, to discuss the Salehi case and later spoke with concern about his ties to the American government. "We are going to have to examine that relationship," he said, as reported by NYT. "We are going to have to look at that very carefully."