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Editorial: Taking bread out of people’s mouth

Judging from the current situation, one becomes hopeless that the deeply-embedded menace of corruption is never going to be rid of in Afghanistan. The pale response and campaign by the government against corruption make one all the more pessimistic. Currently, various graft watchdogs in Afghanistan concur that corruption has reached new highs in the government’s financial institutions. This comes as the government still pledges to fight the menace but to no avail. The Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI), Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) and the Integrity Watch Afghanistan all agreed that the government’s anti-graft strategy has failed. Meanwhile, following a series of scandals recently being unearthed by media, a new episode has revealed that the government’s free bread distribution scheme in eastern Kunar province suffered a loss of over 1.3 million Afghanis as a result of corruption. After the outbreak of the coronavirus, the government decided to distribute free bread to deserving people across the country for more than one month. At the time, reports suggested the scheme was stymied by corruption and irregularities and there were allegations that in some areas rich individuals also received the bread while the poor were left out. A recent investigative report by Pajhwok News Agency substantiated all these allegations and within hours of the report, Kunar’s governor house supported the report on corruption and promised an investigation into the matter. Considering these circumstances, it seems nothing discourages the corrupt class of our society from indulging in such a nuisance. The problem lies with the government’s inability to properly implement the law and confront the violators, most of whom are strongmen. Despite there are laws and the Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Center in place, the government has failed to honor its commitments and bring such people to justice. This is happening while the Ministry of Economy recently confirmed that 90 percent of Afghans are living below the poverty line. With that being the case, hundreds of millions of dollars are being plundered of the country’s assets and revenues, as well as foreign aid; however, there is no proper law enforcement to find the accountable ones and bring them to the book. Unless a top-down approach to tackling corruption is taken – which should involve legal action against high-ranking government officials, including former cabinet ministers – the issue of corruption would never leave Afghanistan and the corrupt would continue to take the bread out of people’s month.

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