[JURIST] US President Barack Obama on Sunday urged the Afghan government to reduce corruption and institute an effective judicial system. During a surprise visit to the country, Obama called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai [official website; JURIST news archive] to take steps to promote good governance [CBS/AP report], end cronyism, and curtail the opium trade [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen [official profile] echoed these sentiments [Reuters report] on Monday, linking the success of the coming offensive against the Taliban in Kandahar [CEIP backgrounder] and the wider US military campaign in Afghanistan [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] with the ability to reduce corruption and establish a legitimate government. National Security Advisor James Jones [official profile] also emphasized the importance of reducing corruption [NYT report] to US officials.
In January, Afghanistan's lower house of parliament, narrowly approved [JURIST report] Habibullah Galib as the country's new Minister of Justice after rejecting the renomination of then incumbent Sarwar Danish [official profile]. Galib's appointment was described by the director of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] as a step backwards. In November, Afghan authorities announced that they had questioned two cabinet ministers [JURIST report] on corruption charges. Karzai had previously vowed to fight corruption [JURIST report] in his second term inaugural address amid pressure from the international community. Late last year, Afghanistan was ranked [JURIST report] the second most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International [advocacy website], behind only Somalia.