A manhunt is on in Afghanistan for the man President Hamid Karzai wanted to name head of his country's border police, ABC News has learned, following the discovery that the official owned a car filled with heroin intercepted by members of the Kabul City Criminal Investigations Division.
U.S. authorities confirmed the seizure of 130 kilograms of heroin in June in a car that allegedly belonged to Haji Zahir Qadir, the former chief of the border police for northern Takhar province.
Haji Zahir was not in the car when it was intercepted. His cousin and "right hand," Bilal, was present and arrested.
Afghan officials say Karzai wanted to name Haji Zahir to head the border police, but a U.S. military intelligence assessment obtained by ABC News in 2006 named Zahir as a drug smuggler.
News of the seizure and the manhunt came at a most embarrassing time for Karzai, who was at Camp David with President George Bush to meet on regional issues, including the upsurge in violence in Afghanistan and cross-border issues with Pakistan.
According to ABC News sources, even as Karzai sought reassurances of continued support from Bush, U.S. anti-narcotics forces and local police were hunting for Haji Zahir.
U.S. and Afghani sources say the border police are notoriously corrupt, even by the standards of a country where illegal narcotics trafficking accounts for about 60 percent of the gross domestic product.