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Afghanistan's Karzai shrugs off criticism of his cabinet picks

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai defended his cabinet minister choices on Sunday amid rising criticism that his selections will do little to solve the country’s problems. Many international observers and Afghan officials saw the selection of a new cabinet as the first test of Mr. Karzai as he begins his second term.

After Karzai’s reelection was marred by widespread fraud allegations, the Afghan leader is working hard to prove his ability to overcome the country's rampant corruption and appease disillusioned Afghans and Western partners. Nearly half of Karzai’s 23-member cabinet will carry over from his last term, and it will include a former warlord, and only one woman, the minister of women’s affairs.

Several of Karzai’s nominees have been accused of wrongdoing, poor performance, and corrupt practices. Karzai has pledged to bring anyone in his cabinet to justice if they are found guilty of corruption or other unlawful practices, however, he said he would allow the justice system to take it’s course rather than taking independent action. Al Jazeera reports that amid such criticisms, Karzai is likely feeling pressure from all sides.

“You have the Afghan people and some members of the Afghan parliament saying that, by his choices, Karzai is betraying his commitments ... on ending the culture of corruption, which has been so pervasive in Afghanistan,” said [Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kabul]. "It seems that this is going to be a government of appeasement because he is beholden to the warlords who endorsed him in the election. At the same time, he has to answer some of the demands of the international community.”

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