Anti-corruption: words or action

Sunday, 29 January 2017 04:08 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 270 times

An international anti-corruption watchdog group declared in its latest report that Afghanistan is no longer among the world’s three most corrupt nations. The Transparency International (TI) said Afghanistan previously described as the third most corrupt country in the world has now jumped to 8th position in its 22nd annual Corruption Perceptions Index of 2016. Welcoming the TI report, the Afghan government has said the improvement was a result of its fulfilment of anti-corruption promises. 

 

The International Transparency has its own benchmarks for developing the global corruption index of countries, based on which corruption might have dropped in Afghanistan; however, Afghans observe no practical change in the trend in their daily life. Corruption remains a common practice in government institutions, and no senior officials have been tried on corruption charges since the inception of the National Unity Government (NUG), nor has any mega corruption case disclosed during its rule been adjudicated. 

From ministers to presidential advisers, many officials accused of corruption still enjoy impunity from prosecution, and not only have they not been brought to justice, but they also hold senior positions of power. 

Most of the anti-corruption endeavors of the National Unity Government have been symbolic. Afghan people are dissatisfied with the work of government institutions fighting corruption, including the president-led National Procurement Commission (NPC), and the specialized Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC) widely touted by the government, before its establishment, as a center to bring to justice the senior government officials engaged in major corruption cases, but that is yet to happen, unfortunately. The ACJC began its work from the public trial of a government employee accused of receiving 50,000 Afs in bribe, while those involved in embezzlement of millions of dollars are still immune to any legal action. 

If the scope of anti-corruption is to be determined based on priority, mega corruption cases should be investigated first, and government officials who pocketed millions of dollars be brought to justice. Physiologically, investigating one major graft case is more useful than tens of small cases, and similarly the dismissal of a corrupt minister is more effective than that of ten low-ranking corrupt public employees, because that, for example, ensures transparency in the entire ministry. Bearing that in mind, corruption has not been appropriately tackled in Afghanistan, and so any report suggesting a decline in corruption level also cannot be trusted.