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Editorial: Worry-free fugitives

In a fog of war, law enforcement in Afghanistan is at a low ebb. Despite there are orders of arrest warrants against criminals and suspects, the government has failed to bring such people to book. Prominent examples are fugitive Afghan warlord, Nizamuddin Qaisari, who has multiple times fled arrest and is hiding in plain sight. Another instance is of Zemarai Paikan, a former Ministry of Interior (MoI) employee accused of widespread corruption and misuse of authority, who had been at large for the past three years; however, the ministry reported his apprehension recently. Another case in point is former Afghanistan Football Federation President Keramuddin Karim, indicted last year with sexually harassing female football players, who is also yet to be arrested. A security operation to arrest Karim yielded no result on Monday as roiled inhabitants of Panjsher province rose in arms to defend Karim, who is also fined by FIFA $1million, against detention. This situation has brought the Afghan government’s reputation and political will into question. Such incompetence also reflects badly and bodes ill for the central government because it highlights its fragility. It seems the government only exerts power in the capital Kabul while provinces are out of bounds. Reining in powerful and politically-connected warlords and strongmen have proved a thorn in the government’s side. Considering the circumstances, a trend of impunity is on the rise as President Ashraf Ghani’s administration has failed to crackdown on such people. One reason for that could be that Afghanistan is going through an abnormal situation now – given the war and peace negotiations. However, when people rise in arms against their own government and don’t abide by rules, then it’s indeed a pretty pass. Karim’s defenders justify their rebellion by reasoning that there is not a proper balance in the fight against corruption and that when the government has opted to release 5,000 Taliban hardened criminals, what’s yet another fugitive? But people shouldn’t compare one evil with another. If they don’t help the government in law enforcement and then we would witness absolute chaos – on top of the ongoing war that is victimizing Afghans. Therefore, it’s Afghans’ liability to assist the state in prosecuting – and if found guilty then arresting – criminals and thus they shouldn’t be a hurdle to the implementation of court verdicts. Otherwise, such worry-free fugitives are setting a bad example for the rest of society as impunity for men at large is further being promoted and encouraged.

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