Graft in Afghanistan worries Americans
WASHINGTON (PAN): As the United States prepares for a post-2014 Afghanistan, top lawmakers and experts on Thursday expressed their concern over deep-rooted corruption in the country and the impact that it would have on its future.
“Corruption could prevent army and police units from successfully assuming responsibility for securing Afghanistan from internal and external threats after 2014,” said Congressman Rob Wittman. Corruption also potentially reduced the operational effectiveness of security forces and jeopardised their legitimacy, he added.
Chairing a hearing of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, Wittman stressed Afghan forces’s capability of maintaining security after transition to enable the US to achieve its strategic goal of denying terrorists a safe haven in Afghanistan,.
Responding to lawmakers’ concerns, Vanda Felbab-Brown, a fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the prestigious Brookings Institute, said few Afghans believed that a better future lay on the horizon after 2014.
The result was pervasive hedging on the part of key power-brokers as well as ordinary Afghans, she noted. “Worse yet, Afghans have become disconnected and alienated from the government and other power arrangements.”
Governance in Afghanistan had been characterised by weakly functioning state institutions that were unwilling and unable to uniformly enforce laws and policies, the expert said.
She recommended the need for prioritising anti-corruption efforts and curbing ethnic and tribal discrimination that drove entire communities into the hands of the Taliban.
Kenneth Katzman, specialist on Middle Eastern affairs at the Congressional Research, said Afghan forces were subject to corruption factors because there was no tradition of professionalism.
“Numerous examples exist where the United States has given the ANA and ANP weaponry and then they've sold it and put the money in their pockets. They've sold fuel and then they're claiming they're unable to move around to perform missions because they sold the fuel we gave them,” Katzman added.
Felbab-Brown said: “What is also very disturbing about the nature of corruption in Afghanistan is that patronage networks have been shrinking and becoming increasingly exclusionary.
“What is also disturbing about corruption in Afghanistan is, of course, its overlap with the ethnic and tribal rifts and the ability of the Taliban insurgency to emphasise corruption as a key motivating mechanism for the population to tolerate, if not outright support the Taliban.”
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