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Editorial: Cancer of corruption

While Afghanistan is still among the 10 countries most affected by corruption in the world, second vice-president Sarwar Danish has acknowledged the Afghan government hasn’t been completely successful in fighting graft in the country. Marking the International Anti-Corruption Day, which is observed annually on 9th December, he admitted the government still needed to appoint ‘clean’ people as leaders in every organization in order to fight bribery and corruption. Surprisingly, he also stressed that media outlets can play a key role in fighting this menace through their investigative reporting and disclosing information. Meanwhile, the UN reiterated its support to Afghanistan’s initiatives to fight corruption and welcomed the legislative, policy and institutional improvements that strengthen Afghanistan’s framework to fight corruption.

Although Afghanistan has made somewhat progress towards eradicating this blight, the country still needs to go a long way before this culture is rooted out from the society. New Penal Code, the Access to Information Law, the Anti-corruption Law and the 2017 Anti-Corruption Strategy are some of the achievements in terms of legislature and policies but the challenge exists in translating these laws into effective action. As corruption continues to affect Afghan citizens’ daily lives and erodes public confidence in government institutions, working for the implementation of these laws and holding to account those who break them is need of the hour; however, the government has failed to do so. Because no one is above the law, there is a need for a stern and robust government to curb corruption among the higher-ups, which would lead to deter this practice in lower-ranking and inferior officials. Despite there are necessary laws, they haven’t been implemented on the strongmen. We have numerous cases of outstanding arrest warrants and summonses related to corruption investigations, along with corresponding travel bans, which are yet to be enforced.

The ability to acquire quick and easy profits coupled with the impunity and lack of proper law enforcement is something that further encourages the prevalence of the cancer of corruption in Afghanistan. It thus impoverishes everyone because poverty and inequalities stem from it. For Afghanistan to successfully root out corruption, every citizen should be a whistle-blower who should be protected against any kind of retribution. Besides, only grassroots movements across all segments of society aimed at seeking integrity, accountability and transparency would help Afghanistan emerge victorious in this regard. It’s because they would help the country be self-reliant by salvaging and putting to good use the money which pours into the corruptionists’ pockets. Meanwhile, awareness should be spread among the masses about the positive incentives of eradicating corruption – one of those being the findings of studies which revealed that nations fighting corruption and improving their rule of law can increase their national income by 400 percent.Therefore, for making demonstrable progress against bribery, the government should make significant steps to challenge impunity, as well as prosecute, punish and shame those who practice it. Only such handling of the situation would teach a proper lesson to corrupt people as well as discourage others.

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