"The limited capacity and widespread corruption of all levels of Afghan governance are factors in debate over the effectiveness of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and in planning for the July 2011 beginning of a transition to Afghan security leadership. That transition is to be completed by the end of 2014, a timeframe agreed to by the United States, its international partners, and the Afghan government, although some believe that timetable might be accelerated in the aftermath of the May 1, 2011, U.S. killing of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. Afghan governing capacity has increased significantly since the Taliban regime fell in late 2001, but many positions, particularly at the local level, are unfilled. Many governing functions are performed at least informally by unaccountable power brokers. Widespread illiteracy and ethnic and factional ties limit the development of a competent bureaucracy, although U.S. and other programs are attempting to address these deficiencies. On corruption, President Hamid Karzai has accepted U.S. help to build emerging anti-corruption institutions, but these same institutions have sometimes caused a Karzai backlash when they have targeted his allies or relatives. Effects of corruption burst into public view in August 2010 when the large Kabul Bank nearly collapsed due in part to losses on large loans to major shareholders, many of whom are close to Karzai. Some in Congress have sought to link further U.S. aid to clearer progress on the corruption issue, and the issue is expected to be an additional significant factor in debate about the pace of a U.S. troop drawdown from Afghanistan."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21922