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

The London Anti-Corruption Summit

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The London Anti-Corruption Summit

President Ashraf Ghani is in London to attend a key international summit on corruption. Afghanistan is described as one of the most corrupt nations in the world with hundreds of millions of dollars being embezzled or given as bribes to corrupt officials each year. In its annual report on corruption in the world, the International Transparency put Afghanistan along Somalia and North Korea as the top three corrupt nations of the world. Shortly ahead of the London Summit, in a meeting with Queen Elizabeth, British Prime Minister David Cameron described Afghanistan and Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt”, sparking reactions from officials of the two countries. An Afghan official has said the characterization was unfair. Afghan officials have asserted that the Afghan government is determined to fight corruption, and Ashraf Ghani would share his views with world leaders and talk about Afghanistan’s achievements and its continued commitments to fight corruption.
The London anti-corruption summit aims to promote global efforts against corruption and establish a shared vision on fighting the phenomenon. With the summit aimed at pushing countries to do more to curb corruption, countries with high levels of corruption like Afghanistan and some African nations are particularly under the spotlight. While the Afghan government is eying to use the opportunity of the world stage to persuade the international community that the Afghan government is committed to fight corruption, Western leaders present in the summit want to hear from the Afghan President about the progresses made in curbing corruption in Afghanistan. The international community supporting stabilization and development of Afghanistan is eager to see if the anti-corruption efforts in the country are sustainable and going to the right direction.
Countries like Afghanistan, that are affected by endemic corruption have much to lose while anti-corruption campaigns in these countries are undermined by instabilities and weak economies as well as governments. The anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan in the last over a decade have largely been a misguided campaign with the Afghan government and the international community failing to establish a sustainable and result-oriented campaign. During the past fifteen years of the collective efforts, Afghanistan and international supporters failed to establish shared policies and coordinate efforts and resources designated for the campaign. On the other hand, the war consumed a large part of the focus and resources and, as a result, Afghanistan and the international community lost focus on the campaign.
In the upcoming decade, success in the fight against corruption is vitally important for Afghanistan. It is probably going to continue dealing with a resurgent Taliban insurgency and other militants for many years to come and possibly for decades, and having sufficient funding either from its own revenues or from the international donations will be crucial for winning the war against the Taliban and other militant groups. However, the prospect of the country having the required funding is never assured. Afghanistan is far from being able to quickly improve economy to generate sufficient cashes for funding the war as well as ordinary and development expenses, taking into account that the insurgency is hampering the development efforts aimed at improving the country’s economy.
On the other hand, with Afghanistan remaining as one of the top corrupt countries in the world, the international community supporting Afghanistan is growing even more fatigue with the unsuccessful efforts. The flow of international aid to Afghanistan has already declined and is going to further shrink if NATO and the US go ahead with the planned drawdown of their troops that are currently providing training and advising Afghan security forces. With the Middle East and other areas in turmoil, a continued support from the international community to the stabilization and development of Afghanistan is never certain and things can quickly change. In such chase, having corruption problem will be a recipe for disaster of failure to stabilize the country and defeat the insurgency.
Therefore for Afghanistan, managing to curtain corruption or fail in the efforts is a matter of success or failure in the efforts to salvage the future of the country. Successfully fighting corruption would be one of the most important tools in the fight against the Taliban insurgency. But the problem is certainly a major threat for the future efforts of the to stabilize the country. The international community has made it clear that Afghanistan needs to achieve concrete results in fighting corruption if it is going to continue receiving international aid to fund its security forces and the administration. The national unity government has done well in engaging with its Western backers, and has largely managed to persuade them that the new government is committed to fight corruption. But it has failed to have progresses in curtailing the level of corruption in the country despite the initiatives it has taken since coming to power two years ago.
Afghanistan is eying on the upcoming international conferences to have renewed commitment of its Western supporters in funding Afghan security forces as well as the country’s routine and development expenses. Fighting corruption is set a major prerequisite for continued support of the international community. However, the international community supporting Afghanistan is unhappy with the results of the anti-corruption efforts, and this will inevitably have impacts for the two major upcoming international conferences on Afghanistan. President Ghani may have nice talks in the conference, but the fact is only that would not help the lagging anti-corruption campaign.

Ghani needs to be frank about the challenges and commitment of the government. He needs to explain the genuine plans the Afghan government has to ask for assistance from the international community to implement them. The London Summit on corruption is an opportunity for the government of Afghanistan to persuade the international community to remain committed to support the anti-corruption campaign in Afghanistan. The government of Afghanistan needs to use such opportunities and reenergize the fight against corruption.

Abdul Ahad Bahrami is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at ahad.bahrami@gmail.com

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