Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, July 20th, 2018

Corruption is the Biggest Injustice

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Corruption is the Biggest Injustice

It is believed that corruption is one of the severest injustices done to a society. Cor ruption is an injustice in the sense that when justice demands that a person should be given what he\she deserves, corruption does the exact opposite. It is corruption that makes systems and institutions suffer and even collapse. Therefore, corruption should be handled appropriately if a society intends to develop and strengthen the foundations of a just system. Unfortunately our country Afghanistan has been a victim of this nuisance for a long period of time. And it is because of the same reason that Afghanistan has been limping while striving to stand on its feet regarding political and economic development.

After the end of Taliban regime, there were hopes that Afghanistan would be able to move towards betterment. The extremist and repressive government of Taliban would be replaced with a modern and welfare-seeking one. The war torn country would be able to have some time in reconstruction process and the people of Afghanistan would be able to have a life wherein they would be able to have a sigh of relief and definitely their basic rights. The opportunity was great as well, as the international community started assisting the country militarily, technically and above all financially.

Billion of Dollars poured in the country for both military support and development projects. But if we analyze the socio-political and socio-economic scenario in the country the development does not seem as great as it should have been. Most of these aids were devoured by corruption instead of being spent for the intended purposes. Either the money that was to be spent through government or the NGO sector, both the ways corruption had the largest share.

Today, corruption has penetrated into our social behavior. It is now a part of routine life to be corrupt. From a very minor to the most major matter, we find corruption ruling the roost. According to Asia Foundation report, about 55% of Afghan respondents believe that corruption is a major problem in their daily lives. If people responded to their involvement in some sort of corruption and they responded rightly, the percentage would be very high.

One of the most unfortunate facts is that the people do not consider it evil to be a part of corruption some way or the other. They readily become part of it and do not seem to revolt much against it, because they know that ultimately the corrupt have to be rewarded. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime an Afghan normally pays an average of $158 per bribe, which is really threatening and shows the violation of justice on daily basis. It is really unfortunate to hear that Afghanistan has been named as the world's third most corrupt country after Somalia and Myanmar, by Transparency International (2010 Report).

One of the major problems in tackling with corruption in our country is that the controlling mechanism itself is involved in it. The government that should be on the forefront to curb this menace, itself has been a major contributor in this regard. There have been many major occasions of corruption when Karzai government has been blamed for being directly involved in the matter. From the issue of election to the Kabul Bank episode, the government has not been able to extract itself out clean. On most of the occasions the government has blamed the western supporters to be generating corruption in the country. In one of the most recent audit reports given by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction the U.S. aid money has been claimed to be fueling corruption in the country because of the inability of the U.S. to closely follow the tracks of the funds generated.

The report says, "US agencies have taken steps to strengthen their oversight of US funds, but the United States still has limited visibility over how these funds flow through the Afghan economy, leaving these funds vulnerable to fraud or diversion to insurgents." In the true sense the fund generating countries must have strict accountability measures in action so that the funds must not be caught in the quagmire of the corruption. But, at the same time, there must be check and balances from government side as well, which, at the moment, are non-existent.

On the other hand International officials seem to be engaged, some way or the other, in curbing the corruption in the country. Their serious efforts started in late 2007, and as a result of the pressure they put there was the establishment of High Office of Oversight and Anti-corruption (HOOAC) by government in June 2008, which after eighteen months was declared as in-efficient and lacking the necessary authority and independence to pursue the cases of corruption by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Hearing that the international community started putting more pressure on Karzia government for the establishment of corruption commission but instead the government opted for Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC). The leadership of this committee was once again given to the same leadership as that of HOOAC, which upon further criticism was given to Azizullah Lodin, the ex-head of the international election committee, which was charged with the case of 2009 election fraud.

The anti-corruption tribunal and Major Crimes Task Force (MCFT) established afterwards also could not prove to be as promising as they were meant to be. The Bill Shaw controversy proved to be the first blow for the anti-corruption tribunal, which was then followed by the arrest of Mohammad Zia Salehi and Noorullah Delawari – Both aide to President Karzai , on bribery and corruption charges and the interference of the President, which resulted in their release. In short, it can be said that anti-corruption tribunals and committees or task forces are all useless unless they are given the independence and authority they require for their work. It is not the name that matters, the essential factor for any anti-corruption institution is its capability to sue even the most influential persons in the society. Every person in the society must be treated alike by the law. The law that favors the elite and the ruling class is bound to nurture corruption.

Corruption in Afghanistan is now a complex phenomenon that requires extensive efforts from both national and international authorities to be comprehended and resolved. Definitely, the anti-corruption institutions, equipped with authority and facilities can be major contributors in curbing it, but above all the honest efforts on individual level can be helpful to a great extent. The realization, on individual level, that a person commits the biggest injustice and violates the right of fellow-being while being involved in corruption is the crying need of time.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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