Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, February 20th, 2020

Corruption in Afghanistan


Corruption in Afghanistan

Comparing Afghanistan to other countries in the cosmos, it ranks 1.4 on the Transparency International corruption scale – the worst in South Asia. Of the 178 countries assessed, the only countries lower ranked than Afghanistan are Myanmar and Somalia. Bribery and corruption are to their critical points. From our Big Brothers to a simple police, all are vastly involved in such illegal activities.

There are people known as 'employed on commission' who operate in front of government buildings. They approach people saying that they can solve any kinds of issue in a short time and then they quote the price. For example, if you need a passport or driving license or are paying taxes and customs duties, they can give you the final receipt which has been processed through all official channels in a matter of days, a process which takes usually weeks. Then they will take the money and share it with those who are sitting inside offices.

In 2009, Afghan citizens had to pay approximately US$ 2.5 billion in bribes, which is equivalent to 23 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), according to a report. By coincidence, this is similar to the revenue accrued by the opium trade in 2009 (which UNODC estimates at US$ 2.8 billion).

This report shows that graft is part of everyday life in Afghanistan. During a survey period, one Afghan out of two had to pay at least one kickback to a public official. In more than half the cases (56 per cent), the request for illicit payment was an explicit demand by the service provider. In three quarters of the cases, baksheesh (bribes) were paid in cash. The average bribe is US$ 160, in a country where GDP per capita is a mere US$ 425 per year.

According to the survey, those entrusted with upholding the law are seen as most guilty of violating it. Around 25 per cent of Afghans had to pay at least one bribe to police and local officials during the survey period. Between 10-20 per cent had to pay bribes either to judges, prosecutors or members of the government. The international community does not escape criticism: 54 per cent of Afghans believe that international organizations and NGOs "are corrupt and are in the country just to get rich". Lack of confidence in the ability of public institutions to deliver public goods and services is causing Afghans to look for alternative providers of security and welfare, including criminal and anti-government elements.

Is poverty a crime?! A broke person is imprisoned and punished for minor offences, whereas a rich one is exonerated from major crimes. The correctional centers are founded only for torturing the poor people who cannot afford to bribe. The poorest you are the severest torture you suffer. In other words, poverty has turned to crime and just for not being able to bribe the corrupt officials, you have to be jailed or tormented and finally you will be made, by hook or by crook, to succumb to bribe.

It seems as if the ambiguous policy of the puppet government intends to increase the number of the dishonest and corrupt politicians in the country. On one hand, the president deplores the horrible acts of the militant groups and on the other, he implores the international community to expunge the felons and the murderous terrorists' names from the blacklist and even free them from the prisons, no matter however innocent people they butchered or slaughtered. How paradoxical it is!

The president, who gives no iota of mercy to those being jailed and tortured for a trifling mistake, bestows a generous offer and support to the people have been caught red-handed. The fatherly attempts of the president for Afghans' inflexible hostiles and merciless killers' smacks of a high injustice and dictatorship that nobody dares to ask why? Thus, in my idea, this matter openly displays the world our corrupt president.

The recent news which released the drug trafficking in Kandahar jail house and the confinement of the prisoners longer than their conviction, unmasked the face of the corrupt officials. In other words, those who claim to carry out their responsibilities honestly regarding their jobs, are corrupt. They do not deserve their duties for causing misfortune and poverty for the society rather than serving.

The officials are supposed to take corrective actions to halt the crime and corruption but they damage the society. It is the most ridiculous fact to trust the corrupt officials guarding against corruption and their ilk assuming the responsibility of imprisoning the criminals.

Do you think that we are treating the criminals with justice? Who should imprison the bigger criminals who are making business not only with the people's money but also with their blood?! Don't we need a complete reform in the administrative and correctional systems? The government must be alert to the tragic consequences of the situation and if the officials do not attempt to buck the current trend, the prisoners will come out more violent than they before.

Rooting out corruption is no easy task. We need root-and-branch reforms in official, administrative and government systems and political infrastructures. Our legislative, executive and judiciary boards are all symbolic portraying the feature of, a dictator, country democratic. The mentioned powers must take firm steps in implementing the constitutional laws of the country.

Executive boards seem to waver more in carrying out their responsibilities and not decisively putting the law into effect. Thus, eliminating crime and corruption are not possible unless strict actions will be taken, under punitive measures, against lawbreakers and wrong doers. Moreover, the culture of immunity is also far from justice.

Some stubborn criminals will persistently commit crimes with impunity. I think there are going on some bridge buildings between authorities and criminals by the middle-men which smacks of abuse of power that exacerbates the situation day by day. In short, the officials should no more be begging, defrauding and extracting money in their official uniforms and eliminate the culture of immunity which may put negative effect on the country and bring justice and the law into question.

Hujjatullah Zia is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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