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Kabul Bank in headlines once again

In an anti-corruption move, the director and deputy of the Kabul Bank’s clearance department have been arrested by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and law enforcement personnel this week. Both the officials have been held on charges of receiving bribes form a debtor of the former Kabul Bank. According to the Anti-Corruption Prosecution Officer Chairman, Said Alam Ishaqzai, the two officials have been arrested for taking a $100,000 USD bribe. Soon after forming a national unity government, President Ashraf Ghani reopened the Kabul Bank case in late 2014, he said all debtors to the bank must payback within a week otherwise they will be referred to the Attorney General’s Office and put on exit control list (ECL). Yet despite the warning by the president, some 18 powerful individuals from political and business elite families and institutions continue debtors of the bank. Of the 18 bigwigs, only Mahmood Karzai, Ghafar Dawy, and Gulbahar Habibi have publicly committed to paying back their debts. Since the bank has already been in headlines for corruption scam, this new incident will cause sagging of public confidence in the financial sector. Therefore, the government will have to adopt zero tolerance for corruption in the bank’s clearance process whereas the government must also ramp up its anti-corruption drive against other banks and monetary institutions as well. Moreover, anti-corruption advocates demand a thorough probe into the alleged urban development corruption. The director of the High Office of Anti-Corruption, Said Ghulam Hussain Fakhri, sought a thorough investigation into the corruption case related to the Ministry of Urban Development Affairs. This corruption scandal is the second biggest. Six of the senior officials in the ministry have been accused of embezzling millions of dollars in funds meant for the ministry projects. There were also reports regarding millions of dollars corruption in the Ministry of Defense. Because of the endemic corruption, Afghanistan, over the past few years, has been scolded by the international community. Despite the severe international pressure and the government’s anti-corruption campaigns, Afghanistan still lags behind as there is no satisfactory development against corruption. Since coming into existence, the government has been entrusted with the haunting tasks of uprooting corruption, however, given the deep rooted nature of graft culture, it is not an easier to tackle it in a shorter time with little energies.

Riled at the endemic corruption, the international community has made it binding upon Kabul to launch a serious war against corruption, lest it will not receive global aid. When it comes to fighting corruption, the government must also bring the NGO sector under the fold of scrutiny as transparency and accountability of NGOs works is the need of the hour. This is worth appreciation that finally the government has taken notice of it as the Minister of Economy, Abdul Sattar Murad, vowed to increase the accountability of the NGOs operating in Afghanistan. He said work must be done to overcome aid waste and enhance the effectiveness of the projects so that the desired objectives are achieved.

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