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TI, IWA fooled media

Comment-By Mansoor Faizy-KABUL: The Transparency International (TI) in cooperation with the Integrity Watch of Afghanistan (IWA) on Tuesday said that there is still political interference in the Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Center (ACJC) of Afghanistan.

The TI, with its Afghan partner IWA, in its report said that the National Unity Government (UNG) has fulfilled only a few anti-corruption commitments in the past two years, especially when corruption is ripe in the judiciary. The report was said to be fresh and full of juice. However, the Tuesday conference was an attempt to give “old wine in new bottle” to the Afghan media because the report was already published on October 4, 2016. Most of Afghan media organizations were fooled. Blame the TI and IWA or the media but the credibility of all is at stake. Media and the TI and IWA will jump in now to save their noises. But what done has been done—leaving most of us in shock. One thing has become clear that we are naïve by not differentiating white from black.

To get a clear picture one has to compare the information provided on Tuesday with the report published last month. Addressing a news conference, organized to release the report what media thought new, Regional Director of the Asia Pacific Department for Transparency International Srirak Pilpat said, “Out of 50 anti-corruption commitment made since 2014, the Afghan government has fulfilled few of them.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Integrity Watch of Afghanistan, Sayed Ikram Afzali, said that all anti-corruption organizations were not accountable for current corruption crisis, they need to be revised.

He said that 17 parallel organs established to fight corruption, but no significant achievement gained, thus it is essential to the government reintegrate or dissolve all the parallel anti-corruption.

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) was the first to criticize the TI and IWA. Officials at the AGO rejected any notion of political interference in ACJC’s activities.  The office said that it would not give the right to anyone to interfere in its work. An official of the AGO said that so far no one interfered in their activities.

The second group that jumped into the arena to save its good image was local media. Some have criticized the two non-governmental bodies for publishing the report while many kept quiet. For the latter one, silence is best strategy to calm readers, viewers or listeners.

The root cause of this all controversy and fuss is the report. The information provided on Tuesday to Afghan media has nothing new. After getting the invitation, the reporters hoped they would get something new. What they got was only the agenda of the program. On Wednesday after publishing the story based on the report, Afghan media found that the report was published a day before the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan.

The Brussels Conference on Afghanistan was attended by 75 countries and 26 international organization and agencies. Participants endorsed the ambitions reform agenda presented by the Afghan government. The Brussels members ensured to continue political and financial support for Afghanistan over the next four years.

It will be great injustice and violation of the journalistic principles if the TI was not heard. This scribe made an attempt to include the Transparency International in this picture.

Communication Specialist for the Transparency International, Wahidullah Azizi, told this scribe that English version of the report was released before the Brussels Conference. He said the Tuesday’s report was the Dari and Pashto versions.

“We mentioned in our press release that we are going to release the English version of the report in Dari and Pashto languages,” he said. However, the reporters claimed that they had not received press release, rather they received the agenda.

“Old is not gold in some cases,” said Lmar Khan Sahel, a senior correspondent for Dunia daily. In an email sent to this scribe, he said that freshness is one of the key ingredients of a news story. Sahel is right that is what we learnt in text books and training manuals.

Like him, several others complained about the report which has become part of the history now. Nobody can change the history. What has been written cannot be erased and replaced. But some bad things happen for good reasons. In this case the good aspect is that independent Afghan media would remain cautious.

All local and some foreign media outlets covered the news, because it was very important for Afghanistan. Media owe an apology to the nation. Similarly, Transparency International and Integrity Watch of Afghanistan owe apology to the media. This is what democratic forces practice.

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