News - Afghanistan
Corruption at the highest levels of the Afghan government remains a systemic issue, according to Ahmad Zia Massoud, the President's Special Envoy for Reform and Good Governance.
Massoud told TOLOnews on Thursday that top officials, not just local administrators, were responsible for stealing money from the Afghan government, likely millions of dollars worth.
"Without taking into consideration legal matters, our civil administration employees are harming the general interest for their personal interests," Massoud said. "Even our major political figures, or in other words, those in high ranking positions, have stolen millions of dollars in the past 13 years."
Touching on broader issues of good governance, Massoud said he believes meritocracy is under attack in the national unity government because the appointments process has become so politicized.
"These days, deputy minister positions are becoming political; every political party is trying to introduce their own representatives in this position," he said. "Our deputy ministers must have five to 10 years of professional experience in their related ministry. We are surely losing our capacities, and we cannot form an administration that can truly provide services."
Massoud is certainly not alone in his frustrations with the lack of progress on corruption and good governance issues under the national unity government. The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Afghanistan has called lack of rule of law and exemption from punishment as the primary forced behind increasing corruption in Afghanistan.
"One of the biggest missing links that I feel very strongly about also, is the lack of rule of law, and the impunity that is prevalent in Afghanistan," Ambassador Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin said. "Now, we have seen a few cases where the government has started to take action, but this is clearly one area where we need to see a lot more happening as we move forward," he added.
According to the senior european diplomat, merely locking offenders behind bars is not an adequate solution to administrative malfeasance in Afghanistan. "Of course we can not solve the problem with corruption in Afghanistan by sending tens of thousands of people to jail - that is not the solution," Mr. Mellbin said. "The solution is also very much about changing the system, so that we don't have a system of corruption, but we have systems in place that would actually make it difficult to perpetuate corruption, that that has stronger safeguards and which works against those who try to further their particular interest."
Afghanistan has frequently been ranked by international monitoring groups and transparency activists as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. It is often compared to Venezuela in extent of rule of law.