April 20, 2014

Afghan Corruption’s Godfathers, graft cost grows to $4 billion

By Mirwais Adeel - Mon Feb 11 2013, 9:43 am

Afghan Corruption’s Godfathers, graft cost grows to $4 billionIt is obvious that the corruption crisis in Afghanistan is generating the most unqualified and evil state in its history. According to the United Nations survey which released on February 7th 2013, half of Afghan citizens paid almost $4 billion bribes, while requesting public and private services. It is equal to double Afghanistan’s domestic revenue.

The frequency of corruption and the arrogance associated with this disease has made Afghanistan one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and the beneficiaries of this situation are the warlords and their relatives.

Corruption has become the acceptable way of working in the government. There was a time, when bribes were paid for getting illegal things done but now bribes are paid for getting legal things done. We have seen the various scams at the high levels of the government and the parliament – the list goes on and on.

If we look back to the past, we can see how these corrupted people got their power. As a result of the Bonn conference, the current system was established in the late 2001. The political power was divided between warlords, who fought with each other for decades, and a few technocrats, who came from western countries and had their support for a short time.

During the first two years after the Bonn conference, the U.S. government paid a huge amount of money to the warlords, like Saiaf, Fahim, Khalili, and Dostum, to keep them silent and gradually disarm them. These warlords invested the money in public lands, which they had already usurped, and then sold these lands to people.

Also, these warlords have earned a lot of money from smuggling opium and guns. They have become millionaires overnight and all of this profit helped them to become more powerful. They have become able to remove or force those few technocrats to leave the government or to work for them. The U.S. and other western powers are just witnesses of this dangerous process.

As a consequence, the government has become powerless in its fight against corruption because those who have been appointed to either investigate or prosecute are corrupt themselves or loyal to the warlords.

Afghans have become, day-to-day, more separated from the government. They are deeply dissatisfied with Kabul’s inadequacy and unwillingness to fight against corruption, while the influence of corrupted officials spreads. Afghans already profoundly resent the abuse of power and impunity over the past decade.

On the other hand, access to jobs, promotions, and economic opportunity has become more dependent on being close to the warlords, instead of merit and hard work.

As a result of this process corruption seems to be a growing cancer in Afghanistan. Many new leaders when coming into power declare their intention to root out the corruption, but soon they also become corrupted and start gathering wealth.

There are some steps which are needed to be taken to cure this dangerous disease:

At first, the constitution should be reviewed. It should limit and define the president’s power. One of the reasons that corruption is getting worse is the interference of the president and his advisers in all the government’s branches especially the Judiciary branch.

Secondly, the reviewed constitution should support a profound reform within the Judiciary system. The Judiciary is an essential part in the fight against corruption. Right now, it is the most corrupted branch of the government. To fight against corruption we should get rid of the corrupted people. Along with this action the Judiciary needs to recruit new and young employees who are not loyal or related to the warlords.

Third, the ministry of Interior Affairs should reform its structure and remove the parallel departments. It should also change the structure of recruiting because now most of its personnel are illiterate or unqualified. This ministry should raise the base salary and improve other benefits to attract young graduates from universities.

Fourth, parliament should pass stricter laws against corruption. It should also pass laws to forbid parliament members in interfering in the Executive and the Judiciary branches of the government.

Fifth, the anti-corruption watchdog should have more authority to investigate cases which high official are involved. The reviewed constitution should guarantee the independence of this office from the interference of the Executive and the Legislative branches of the government.

In closing, I would like to bring this point to attention: We all know that most of the corrupt people are not economically or socially underprivileged, where as they have a significant social status. These people and their supporters (warlords) are very powerful and will resist any action which endangers their interests. But we should keep it in mind, it is necessary to start to cure our drowning society from this disease to make a better future.

By: Mohammad Rasouli

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