Karzai: Cracking the whip
The finance ministry estimates that the 12 provinces earned more than half a billion dollars from customs last year, but only $80 million reached Kabul. This considerably undermined the government's efforts to consolidate its rule and bring stability.


The president initially planned to sack any provincial official who defied his rule. He was particularly outraged by those who refused to pay up dues to the central government. But later he changed his mind, instead, preferring to hold a meeting.


Authority undermined


Karzai last week transferred the governor of Parwan province north of Kabul to the remote northeastern province of Badakhshan. A government spokesman however, said that was a routine move unrelated to the crackdown on non-payment of arrears to the centre.


Since coming to power after the United States-led forces toppled Taliban in late 2001, Karzai has struggled to establish his authority in provinces ruled by tribal warlords and their militias.


He announced the sacking of several provincial officials last year, but some simply ignored the order.  In all, there are 32 provinces in Afghanistan.