Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Reviving the Anti-Corruption Campaign

Government officials say police special unit responsible for fighting serious crimes and corruption have arrested two senior officials of the Kabul municipality on charges of corruption and abuse of authority. The arrests come shortly after President Ghani reiterated his determination fighting corruption and announced that his government would soon take new measures to fight corruption. Despite that corruption remains highly pervasive in government offices in Afghanistan and most of government officials are involved in corruption, such high-profile detentions are rare and corrupt officials manage to easily elude prosecution by law.
The government is apparently boosting the efforts to revive the fight against corruption. The national unity government maintains that despite challenges it is committed to lead an effective campaign against corruption. However, critics believe that the national unity government has failed to deliver its promises on eradicating corruption and promoting good governance. Although, fighting corruption has been one of the key objectives of national unity government, the government has fallen short of establishing a comprehensive policy and taking a sustained approach. The government has so far led an on and off anti-corruption campaign that has been unable to promote the efforts against corruption to a new level producing tangible results. Afghanistan continues to remain one of the most corrupt nations in the world while the national unity government’s anti-corruption plans are being criticized as a failed endeavor.
The recent measures taken by the government aimed at curtailing corruption suggest that the Afghan government is attempting to revive the anti-corruption efforts. While many praise the measures aimed at curbing corruption, they still doubt the government’s resolve and sustainability of its approach for eradicating corruption in Afghanistan. It has taken serious anti-corruption measures in past two years: it has brought some key government agencies like procurement, recruitment, construction and customs offices under scrutiny and dismissed or detained a number of government officials on corruption charges. The measures, though, initially sent a shockwave through corrupt bureaucracy but ultimately failed to develop into a sustainable campaign. Therefore, the measures have largely been ineffective to make any major differences in curtailing corruption.
The national unity government needs to demonstrate that there are sufficient political will backing up the anti-corruption efforts. The efforts will go nowhere unless there is a robust political will in the national unity government to lead the initiatives aimed at eliminating corruption and promoting good governance in Afghanistan. According to analysts, high-ranking officials having the highest share of corruption and embezzlement. But so far very few senior government officials have been put on trial for corruption despite that many names are in the list. Despite that the government maintains that political will exist and it would lead an effective anti-corruption initiative, there is still a long way to see if the plans for fighting corruption would work.
Reforming the judiciary is believed to be the key for fighting corruption. There have been considerable progresses in bringing reforms and to empower judiciary that is contribute to the fight against corruption. The government has been working on a plan to establish a special justice center to enable judiciary to spearhead the campaign against corruption. At the center of the initiative lies the initiative to empower the new entity to pursue senior government officials who are accused of corruption. The initiative is believed to be an ambitious plan. But it is expected to bring considerable differences in the efforts to eliminate corruption if it manages to develop as an enduring anti-corruption plan. The initiative is praised as a viable strategy to fight corruption in Afghanistan. The national unity government needs to ensure sustainability of the anti-corruption initiative and avoid unsuccessful efforts such as establishment of parallel anti-corruption commissions.
Many doubt that the government is attempting to revive the anti-corruption efforts with an eye on the two upcoming major international conferences on Afghanistan to be held in July and October this year. There is no doubt that there are some incentive for the government in taking the anti-corruption efforts into the next level. Afghanistan’s needs continued funding from the international community as there is no clear sight of insurgency in the country and on the other hand economy remain weak and fragile. The Afghan government wants to have some tangible progresses in this areas when the upcoming key international conferences are going to be held in July and October this year. It is a legitimate motive for Afghanistan to try to persuade the international community to continue supporting Afghanistan by assuring it that the Afghan government is committed to fight corruption.
Anyway, the government of Afghanistan needs to work hard to assure the international community that its anti-corruption programs are genuine and will curtail corruption. For this, the government needs to refocus on demonstrating a robust political will and garnering political support from the Afghan political spectrum.