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The writing is on the wall

Corruption, especially administrative one, is a public menace in Afghanistan that has tainted the country’s reputation in almost every sector. Last month, the head of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said corruption existed at virtually every level of the Afghan government, including security and civil services. This is while the Transparency International’s most recent Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Afghanistan as tied for 173rd out of 180 countries. Against this backdrop, a couple of days ago, Ajmal Ahmadi, was introduced as the acting president of Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) by President Ashraf Ghani. As soon as he was nominated, he went on an authoritative dismissal spree as he fired seven high-ranking officials, including the state bank’s first deputy, and referred them to the Attorney General Office (AGO) on alleged corruption charges.

Later on, the DAB’s acting governor directed security guards to deny the first deputy entry to the bank as well – something which transpired after the first deputy questioned the decision-making process at DAB’s high council. This is while some Afghan civil society organizations have vehemently objected to the nomination of the acting governor. Ahmadi is a contentious figure when it comes to the parliament as he was constantly engaged in squabbles during his tenure as acting Ministry of Commerce and Industries, where he also removed some key officials. He’s usually criticized for his lack of experience and inability to speak the national languages properly, something that is considered to undermine his integrity whether he’s committed to sincerely work for Afghanistan. The reactions from people, the parliament, and some government officials all deem the DAB governor’s behavior as against law and principles. These circumstances – where on one hand, the inadequate efforts by the government to combat bribery and graft are symbolic while on the other, taking such harsh actions out of the blue are questionable and infeasible – show the significance of a due process in everything that’s carried out. When an official themselves are a caretaker and need the parliament’s vote of confidence to acquire the mandate of firing employees, such behavior of violating administrative rules in a public office shows absolute absurdity. Afghanistan is suffering from a deeply-embedded systematic corruption and it needs to be dealt with accordingly. At this stand, the fact that the acting governor is a close aid of Ghani and that he prides in having the president there to support his every unreasonable move reveals that his nomination is thoroughly political. Even if these sacked officials are complicit – which needs to be proven – the acting governor still needs to observe the norms and avoid adopting domineering conduct on the first day of taking office. Therefore, the government and the parliament should invest the issue closely and make a thorough deliberation if the acting governor is eligible to lead the fundamental financial institution of the country. With these actions that give rise to troubles, the writing is on the wall that such kind of unmeasured and ad hoc steps would lead to further failures in fight against corruption, signifying the lack of proper management and disrespect for following accepted rules and regulations.

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