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Corruption, A Pride or Shame?

(Wasil Ahmad Akhtar)

Corruption is the most frequently used word in Afghanistan and throughout the globe. Is it only the abuse of resources, misuse of authority, absence of laws or absence of justice for all?

Everyone is describing it in its own context. For instance, taking bribe and stealing from public money is a believed corruption in Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, citizens do respect the local norms and cultures, following the religious teachings, there are plenty of laws, rules of law institutions and presence of international community to prevent misusing public money for personal gain. None of the norms and rules permit corruption if properly respected but still the mass and social media is describing the worsen situation in terms of increased in corruption.

According to the Corruption Perception Index 2019 of the Transparency International Afghanistan stands in one of the top most corrupt countries out of 180 countries around the world.

www.corruptioncontrol.com has grouped the different corruption practices to find a joint solution.

FACT (corrupt practices by Favoritism, Authority, Competence and Tribute);

4 P’s (Preference, Power, Privilege and Payment); and

MAPP (Money, Assets, People and Power).

There are too many anti-corruption institutions in Afghanistan but the outcome is seeming too low and far less than the expectations of the citizens and the international community. So many different approaches were implemented to raise awareness against corruption and minimize the corruption index. Wall painting campaign is also conducted in Kabul to raise awareness among citizens and encourage anti-corruption acts.

In 2007, I returned to Afghanistan after a long journey as a refugee to take part in the rebuilding of my beloved war-torn country. I was thinking that the violence ended and we will happily start a new life where I was expecting to be safer than living as a refugee. Last year, I was lucky escaped from the life-threatening operation of Anti-Government group so called Taliban. In 2005, one of my uncles Dr. Hayatullah Salarzai was martyred by Taliban in Qalat while transferring the dead body of his classmate killed in Helmond province. In my opinion, the  increased in violence and terrorism in Afghanistan is directly linked with corrupt practices and acts.

During the start of my first job in Kabul, Afghans were feeling ashamed of taking bribe or doing corruption in other words. But it was a pride for the people with passage of time. Even the elites, politicians, ministers, deputies, directors and ordinary staff of the government were publicly announced by the court and other law enforcement agencies that they are involved in corruption directly and indirectly. Some of the them were jailed and punished in country. There are allegations on citizens where they are not ready to present himself in front of court and the citizens expecting the government to implement justice on all Afghans equally.

Thousands of anti-government prisoners who has killed afghans, ruined infrastructure and committed larger crimes were released while an ordinary Afghan is suffering in jail for committing minor crimes or violating traffic rules or so.

The incompetent, less educated and unprofessional peoples were employed on different key positions which ultimately lead to misuse of authority, wasting resources, poor productivity and disrespect to law and citizens in general.

Despite putting control measures still, it requires serious efforts to effectively manage corruption across the nation. Changes in staff, simplification of procedure and establishment of complaint handling mechanism has not worked at all. Thus, it indicates that the staffing is not done based on competency based and following the accepted international standards, procedures were poorly planned and complaint handling mechanism is not properly established, implemented and maintained.

It is important to see the relationship between different types of corruption with inequality, injustice, poverty and insecurity in country. It seems to me that Afghanistan worsen security situation is because of corruption at various level, types and stages.

I believe that the current deteriorated security situation in Afghanistan originated from prevailing corruption. According to UNAMA, corruption has also disabled the state to deliver effective and affordable public services, fulfil and protect the human rights. More than 100,000 Afghan civilian casualties were report since 2010, thousands of governmental employees were killed, schools and training centers were burnt and exploded, public infrastructures were ruined, universities were killed and wounded in attacks are all because of corrupt acts. Year 2019 and 2020 have been the most violent years in Afghanistan since 2001 and the number of violence has doubled. In short, the citizens feel unsecure throughout the country and many young educated Afghans have fled and many more are trying to flee.

The country’s’ situation is far more deteriorated than ever expected.

Free and secure movement cannot be guaranteed. The perception on law of rule is still consistent instead of rule of law. Job opportunity and job security is lacking. Educational institutions are more personal business oriented and quantity focused instead of quality and delivering service. Citizens prefer seeking health care services out of country and those who can’t afford are suffering. The death, wounded, disabled, addicted and crime rate are increasing on daily basis and most importantly we, the citizens are feeling safe at all.

My recommendation to government is:

Focus on increasing role of traditional media (mullah’s) on fighting corruption as this media is still the most trusted and effective at local level;

Equally implement rule of law on all corrupt official identified as a result of court verdict;

Avoid unprofessional staff recruitment on professional seats and strictly follow the internationally accepted standards for recruitment;

Recruit competent staff regardless of their color, race, network, ethnicity and links with political groups;

Honest and patriotic people should be assigned to monitor, review and audit to check the quality, review as per approved laws and guidelines;

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