The persistence of the issue of corruption or graft in Afghanistan is not a good sign. It is not only responsible for bringing bad name to the country but has also made the international community skeptical of supporting the country. Besides that, almost all walks of life have been influenced by the negative impacts of uncontrolled corruption as Afghanistan is listed among the top 8 in the most corrupt countries of the world. This has hampered the development initiatives in different parts of country to a large extent.
International community, on many occasions, has emphasized that there should be a comprehensive strategy and effective institutions that should be responsible for controlling graft in Afghanistan. It has even conditioned its support on a strong stance of the Afghan authorities against the corrupt individuals and institutions. Nevertheless, a great deal of work needs to be done to make any contribution against corruption a success. Particularly, a determined and honest stand has to be taken against the strong and influential personalities who have been involved in different sorts of corruption.
Establishment of Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Center (ACJC) is an important step against the reign of corruption in Afghanistan. International community is hopeful that something worthwhile can be achieved through ACJC if it is provided with enough authority and it keeps on pursuing the corruption cases with determination and consistency. British ambassador to Afghanistan Dominic Jeremy, commenting on ACJC’s role and corruption in Afghanistan, said recently, “My key message for the government is that fighting corruption is not optional it is an absolute requirement. The Afghan people demand it comes up continuously in the conversation that we have with the ordinary Afghans and civil society organizations and we the international community strongly support the efforts of the government to tackle corruption. Now it is the time to end the impunity… I am expecting to see more and more cases of corruption going through the court. And I am expecting to see bigger cases of corruption going through court (ACJC), what is really exciting about what is happening so far over last six months is that the concept has been proven right and it is possible to tackle impunity.”
Up to 70 corruption cases are under investigation by ACJC; of these, ten cases have been referred to the court. Ten primary courts, two appeal courts and two final court sessions have organized their sessions and at least 34 individuals, including some high level officials, have been sentenced. But there are concerns that the ACJC is still facing challenges within its structure. A source at the ACJC has said that the concerned body is still short of at least 50 attorneys.
One of the major reasons that there has not been any considerable achievement regarding fight against corruption is the fact that the authoritative institutions and individuals have lacked true commitment; which ultimately provided them the room and the opportunity to benefit from the situation and make their own bank balance. So much has been said and so many instances, examples and data have proved that corruption has devoured much of the assistance funds that were for the purpose of improving the life standards of the poor and deserving people, yet there has not been any tangible measure taken to stop the situation.
No strategy for fighting corruption in Afghanistan can be successful unless it starts making the strong individuals and institutions accountable for any sort of corruption that they commit. The norm has been that the rich, powerful and influential people easily dodge the justice system, while the poor have to receive the negative consequences. In fact, the poor are influenced in two different ways by corruption. First, if they are alleged in any case of corruption they have to go through inefficient and most unjust process of the justice system. Second, they are the ones who have to pay bribes and search for recommendations in order to get their works done in the departments and organizations that are corrupt in their dealings. While the rich through their influence, get away with their corrupt activities and at the same time get their works done from different organizations without any difficulty.
Therefore, it stands paramount that the rich and influential people, both in public and private sectors, who are involved in practicing corruption and promulgating it through their actions should be brought to justice. It is important in so many ways; first it will support in identifying the huge cases of corruption that involve large sums of money; second, it will set example for others – finding the influential people brought to justice and held accountable for their corrupt deeds would send a message to the people and to other officials that they cannot run away from justice if they practice corruption.
Such initiative definitely requires support and determination to fight against the whole system; particularly, fighting influential and powerful individuals; nevertheless, there is no other option available. Therefore, it is important that the government and the international community must address this particular issue if something worthwhile is required to be achieved.