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Karzai Faces Western Pressure to Stamp Out Corruption

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the Afghanistan government must wipe out corruption. Margaret Warner reports from Kabul.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Next, the Afghanistan story.

    Today, NATO announced the deaths of two more American service members there. And, on the political front, now that he is assured of another term as president, Hamid Karzai is coming under increasing Western pressure to clean up government corruption. The latest warning came from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Britain has 9,000 troops there, and has lost more than 200 soldiers.

    GORDON BROWN, prime minister, United Kingdom: Sadly, the government of Afghanistan had become a byword for corruption. And I'm not prepared to put the lives of British men and women in harm's way for a government that does not stand up against corruption.

    So, President Karzai agreed with me yesterday that the first priority of his new government would be to take decisive action against corruption.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now Margaret Warner wraps up her reporting trip to Afghanistan, talking to Afghans themselves about corruption and their country's future.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    In the middle of Kabul, in an historic Islamic quarter destroyed by decades of war and neglect, local workers are restoring Murad Khane's centuries-old beauty. They're part of a project sponsored by the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, an international NGO, to help Afghans relearn traditional building methods and crafts.

    For 21-year-old Yasser, politics is far from mind. He was afraid to vote in the presidential election, for fear of being attacked by the Taliban. Now what he wants from Karzai is peace.

  • MAN:

    It's good that he became president. We should have peace. We have to have jobs to help poor people.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Khalilullah, a community adviser for the project, is expecting a lot more.

  • MAN:

    We want changes from him on security, on drugs, on corruption.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    These are just two of the voices we heard this week about how Afghans feel. Now that the long-disputed election is resolved, they all said more of the same won't do, especially when it comes to the corruption that plagues their daily lives.