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Editorial: Hanging upside down?

One of the by-products of the non-stop war in Afghanistan has been poverty, an imposed fate lived by the naturally-rich nation of Afghanistan now. Last year, the United Nations Development Program put the poverty rate at 55 percent as some 1.9m people were food insecure. Based on the UN figures then, one in four Afghans of working age was unemployed and of those who did work, 80 percent were in insecure jobs. However, President Ashraf Ghani just stated that 90 percent of the country’s population lived below the $2-a-day poverty line. During a project launch ceremony named Dastarkhan Milli, he said a $244 million aid would be distributed among needy beneficiaries – four million households to be exact – in the form of wheat flour, rice, beans, cooking and soaps. This comes as there had been earlier distribution of wheat grains and then bread in Ramadan to Afghans but they came under serious fire because there were claims of embezzlement, including the allegation that the assistance wasn’t actually provided to the destitute class of the society. However, this time the President once again promised that there won’t be any corruption or embezzlement in the aid funds, warning if somebody did so, they would be ‘hanged upside down’. Although these aid programs are laudable, the key issues to keep in view is their proper implementation in letter and spirit. It is hoped that this time around, it isn’t just political rhetoric and lip service to gratify the public but rather these promises are honored in practice. The government needs to walk the talk and truly serve the nation. If it’s true to its word, first no one should be allowed to dare embezzle the funds and if somebody does so, they should be punished and prosecuted in public to be an example for the rest. Moreover, corruption has taken root to an extent in Afghanistan that even there were misuse and backdoor deals in the coronavirus funds, in addition to ventilators being smuggled and sold. Therefore, for dealing with such kind of deeply-embedded menace, an example should be set to discourage future violators. Thus, this warning of hanging upside down should be extended to each and every aspect of the government machinery, and most importantly, it should be translated into practice.

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