Prosecutor probing Afghan corruption wasn’t fired: official
KABUL: Afghanistan's attorney general denied that a prosecutor investigating allegations of corruption in the upper reaches of the government had been fired, saying the official simply had reached the point when retirement was mandatory.
Atty. Gen. Mohammad Ishaq Aloko said during an interview in his Kabul office that prosecutor Fazel Ahmed Faqiryar stopped working Thursday in accordance with Afghan law after 40 years of service. The rules state that officials must step down if they are older than 65 or have served for four decades, he said.
The prosecutor was not forced out because of any conflict with President Hamid Karzai, Aloko said. Faqiryar's claim Saturday that he had been fired "is absolutely groundless," he said. "He wants to be admired by the public and the media. His retirement has no relation with corruption."
Faqiryar's exit from his post comes amid growing concern in Washington that billions in U.S. taxpayer money have been pocketed by Karzai's inner circle. At the same time, some U.S. officials fear that pushing the shaky government too hard on corruption could undermine the wider war effort.
A senior State Department official said Sunday that the facts of the prosecutor's case seemed unclear and that he was unaware whether anyone in the administration was raising the issue with the Karzai govern- ment. "We are watching this very closely," he said.
Another U.S. official said an open fight with Karzai probably would make him more intransigent and complicate relations ahead of parliamentary elections and major military operations scheduled for the coming weeks. "It's not worth the potential trouble over one prosecutor where the facts aren't entirely clear," the official said.
Both officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
In an interview Sunday in his modest Kabul apartment, Faqiryar disputed Aloko's account, saying he was authorized to work past 65. Like many Afghans, he doesn't know his exact birthday but says he's about 72. He also said he had worked only 39 years and five months, not counting schooling and five years under Taliban rule when he was off the government clock.
The prosecutor, who was also deputy attorney general, said his relations with the Karzai administration turned sour last year when he briefed a closed-door session of parliament regarding about 25 corruption cases the attorney general's office was working on, naming governors, ministers and ambassadors who were targets of investigation.
The attorney general quickly expressed his unhappiness with the move, Faqiryar said, "so from that time, our relations went bad." -PB News