Corruption has been one of the major causes for the failure of Government policies throughout last eighteen years since the United States toppled the Taliban regime in 2001. In the advent of formation of Government to fill power vacuum created after the Taliban regime was toppled by the invading forces, the US, simply empowered mujahideen leaders who were the reason – in the first place – for fomenting ethnic violence, hate, civil war, loot and plunder of national and private wealth and the subsequent killing of tens of thousands innocent civilians in the country. Though the Government was headed by ex-President, Mr. Hamid Karzai, the real, executive power was in the hands of infamous warlords who mercilessly plundered national treasure, unleashed corruption, nepotism and siphoned development funds to channels of personal use. This practice was entrenched so deep in the so-called Government system that it was no more deemed improper or immoral, hence corruption was the new norm in the Government organizations. The US and her allies were apparently turning deaf ears and blind eyes to these immoral activities of the war lords, who effectively had the entire Government in the hands on the pretext that ‘they helped the US in the fight to topple the Taliban regime, and looked at them as ‘allies’. According to one account, the US and international community poured US$1.2Trilion into Afghan economy in the form of development and military fund. If this amount is distributed on yearly basis for eighteen year, it becomes US$62billion. We have official records of around US$10billions per year, which is used for military expenses and development projects. We do not have any account of the remaining US52billions per year, and this is the money that created so many pockets of power throughout Government controlled territory in Afghanistan. These pockets of power have strong links in the Government systems through their cronies in higher positions, have established strong business ties with international and regional cartels and they have access to channels where they can laundry the stolen money and then use it for various purposes around the world.
This trend continues to take place at present too, and it is becoming more dangerous. These warlords and corrupt elements are taking excessive advantage of the present democratic system in the country. They spend huge amount of money to field candidates for parliamentary elections to grab seats in the parliaments. Once in the parliament, they are immune to all types of legal processes, hence corrupt elements and warlords become entrenched in Afghan legal system now. This is exactly what has happened in the last two parliamentary elections. People do complain against these elements, but there is a law that protect them i.e. impunity for parliamentarian. The result of these immoral and illegal practices with oblivious political support form international community, public support for Government officials, Government polices and Government initiated projects has dwindled. Instead, the enemy has been successful to garner support and recruit ordinary Afghans in rural areas at their ranks to fight the Government. This is exactly what has been happening, and these are the main causes that the Taliban and other armed groups have been able to operate in various provinces freely with support and comradery of local people.
The Government should take heed of this important issue and take strong steps to eradicate these pockets of irresponsible powerful people from Afghan society in general and from the Government system in particular in order to mend ties with the people and deliver good governance in areas which are terrorized, suffered hugely and deprived from economic opportunities. These warlords are the main causes for endemic corruption and grievances among the citizens of Afghanistan. An iron fist and unshakable determination is needed to root out corruption. History is filled with cases in point that with a strong central Government operating with responsibility and honesty, people pour their support in implementation of the Government policies, and stability is ensued sooner or later.
The writer is Mohammed Gul SAHIBBZADA, Political and business analyst & CEO of Kainaat Group of Companies – KGC