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Editorial: Growing Challenge of Corruption

Corruption is endemic in Afghanistan – it has consistently singled out as a big headache, eroding people’s trust in the government. In international rankings measuring corruption, Afghanistan has remained stubbornly at the bottom of the pile over the past several years, bringing a very bad name to the country. Everyone, from top government officials to low-level, are all now suspected as corrupt employees. Despite the strong resolve by policymakers, corruption is widening on a daily basis, and the anti-corruption campaign is proved unproductive. The current efforts are not enough to reduce the level of corruption. The fight against corruption is utterly flout because there were no realistic goals to fight this menace from the beginning. We have more failures than success in the path toward elimination of bribery. It’s imperative to look at the attitudes of anti-corruption officials to get a clear view about characteristics and implication of corruption. The government has shown some seriousness, but it’s not enough at all to address the problem of corruption. Recently the Ministry of Interior Affairs removed 135 officials of highways and 51 personnel of Kabul security gates from their posts on extortion charges. This is part of the ministry’s campaign against extortion on the country’s highways, a move to stop the corruption. They were responsible to prevent any sorts of inequity on the drivers, but they are now behind bars for misusing their positions, which is another type of corruption. Interestingly, the move has taken after weeks of protests by transportation companies who ended their strike on condition that extortion stops on the highways. Moreover, twelve employees of the Ministry of Urban Development and Land, including two higher-ranking officials, were arrested by security forces on corruption charges. They were involved in embezzlement and misuse of their authorities. On Feb. 14, head of Nangarhar customs office, Hashmatullah Walizai, and five other officials of his department were arrested again on corruption charges. On February 6, three members of the Meshrano Jirga, the Upper House of Parliament, were sentenced to 10 years and one month in prison each on charges of accepting $40,000 in bribe money from customs officials in Balkh. The list can go on; there are plenty of such incidents that go unreported. The failure to tackle corruption has already weakened Afghan government’s position in the international community, and the donor countries all the time expressed frustration on the widespread corruption that has been crippling Afghanistan’s institutions. Indeed, officials are acting very slowly against corrupt officials and this could be due unwillingness because some of them are also involved in this tendency.

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