GRAHAM BOWLEY & MATTHEW ROSENBERG
Enmeshed in a bruising political battle over new mining rules seen as vital to Afghanistans economic future,the countrys mining minister Wahidullah Shahrani,on Sunday disclosed about 200 previous mining contracts for the first time,portraying the move as an attempt to bring transparency to a process vulnerable to corruption.
In the process,he appeared to take a swipe at a brother of President Hamid Karzai,citing as flawed the award of a contract in 2006 for a cement company in which he was a partner.
From now on every contract will be made public, Shahrani said at a news conference here. No contract will be kept secret.
However,Shahrani did not release the contract for one of the countrys most lucrative mining concessions,the 2007 agreement for the Aynak copper deposit struck with a Chinese state-owned conglomerate,China Metallurgical Group Corporation.
Almost all of the other contracts published on the ministry website,struck as far back as 2002,covered an array of much smaller marble,coal and other mines,and until the details of the Aynak contract are released,analysts questioned whether the new initiative had full force.
Shahrani said the ministry had discovered financial,legal and technical flaws in some contracts,and held up as an example the operating rights for the countrys only cement factory,which was awarded at the time to a partnership of investors,among them Mahmoud Karzai,President Karzais brother.