Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Afghan Citizens – The Casualty of Corruption

Political syndrome has put its adverse effect on the government machinery, where administrative corruption is prevalent. The horrible consequences of corruption in the life of Afghan citizens is tangible. People are highly frustrated with the ongoing corruption holding strong sway in the government’s body.
Administrative corruption in Afghanistan makes the national and international headlines frequently and the forms of corruption include nepotism, bribery, embezzlement, graft and illegal land transfer. Meanwhile, systemic corruption at border crossings hampers development of the licit market economy. Except for few, public and private sectors are involved in corruption in one way or another. The magnitude of the corruption differs on the basis of one’s position. Those who hold higher positions with higher authority are involved in more corruption, mostly with impunity. Therefore, the poor get poorer and the rich get richer on daily basis.
A 2018 report on anti-corruption by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) put it, “If the Afghan government continues not to take action against public officials who violate internal codes of ethics, a climate of corruption within the Afghan government will endure.”
To view corruption practically, it is very simple. You can visit Afghanistan Central Civil Registration Authority (ACCRA). A number of dealers are standing just in front of the ACCRA building asking you if you want to get certified your ID card earlier and easier by money. If you step inside the building, you will see those who have mediators, their problems are resolved within minutes, whereas others shuttle there for weeks or even months.
If you want to see further, just visit Pakistan Embassy in Kabul. There you will see Afghan police-officers how they deal with the visa applicants. Those who paid bribes to the policemen, they are allowed to enter without standing in the long queues. It seems that those policemen make good money on daily basis. After all, Afghan police-officers and Pakistani officials treat visa applicants with a strong sense of humiliation. Police officers are beating both men and women who apply for visa in a cruel way since there is no law and order. If you are caught filming the illegal treatment of police-officers, your mobile phone will be seized and you will be beaten severely. I witnessed all what I said.
However, corruption has been decreased to a lesser extent as a UNAMA report, “Afghanistan’s Fight against Corruption: Groundwork for Peace and Prosperity” said that “some progress” against corruption had been made. In Transparency International’s global corruption perception index, Afghanistan moved up from 177th (in 2017) to 172nd place (in 2018), out of 180 places. According to a leading Afghan watch-dog organization, Integrity Watch Afghanistan, this was reportedly due to citizens paying fewer bribes. This decrease in corruption was followed by a boost in anti-corruption legislation.
However, it is not enough and Afghanistan is still one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani believed, during Hamid Karzai’s administration, that corruption was one of the main reasons behind Afghanistan’ instability. But his administration also failed to reduce corruption.
According to popular belief, Mafia networks are also involved in corruption and instability. They keep the machine of war running and pay wholesale bribes to customs and other organizations and high-ranking officials to drive their illegal business. The Taliban group also collects money from local farmers as well as truck drivers to sustain the conflict. To this end, a number of factors are interwoven to compound and complicate the issue of corruption.
Based on public belief, a number of high-ranking officials such as ministers and MPs as well as local strongmen are involved in corruption and illegal activities with impunity. They can easily escape the country in case of being prosecuted. What about the involvement of high-ranking officials in the electoral rigging?
One can claim with high confidence that those who were involved in electoral rigging will neither be recognized nor prosecuted. If law-enforcers are breaking the law, whom one can carry the case to or file compliant?
Lawlessness and law-breaking with impunity compound the corruption. Worst of all, judicial system is also largely involved in corruption.
The level of corruption is highly alarming and disappointing to the public. If lawlessness and corruption continue, Afghan citizens are likely to face the horrible consequences. Meanwhile, the gap and mistrust between state and nation will grow wider.
The Afghan government has to fight corruption with strong determination and strictness. Since all are constitutionally equal before the law, a corrupt individual has to be prosecuted disregard of their political or social positions.
Since corruption is highly strong and complicated, the international community should support the government to campaign against corruption so that Afghan citizens could get rid of this chronic problem.
It should be noted that the high level of corruption will blacken the reputation of Afghanistan particularly among Islamic countries. Thus, in addition to the government’s anti-corruption efforts, Afghan clerics have to launch campaign against corruption and put pressure on the government to bring the corrupt individuals to justice.