Corruption 'direct threat' to Afghanistan's existence

 13 Mar 2017 - 11:45

Corruption 'direct threat' to Afghanistan's existence
Photo: AA.

AA

KABUL, Afghanistan: European Union’s Mission in Afghanistan has said corruption is a “direct threat to the survival of the Afghan state”.

The mission launched on Sunday its 2017 anti-corruption campaign which aims to underscore the role of awareness, prevention and government-citizens partnership as a cross cutting pillar in the fight against corruption. 

The campaign runs for seven weeks and will culminate with a high-level anti-corruption conference early in May.

EU Special Representative in Afghanistan Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin said despite some progress in the fight against corruption, it remains endemic and poses a real existential threat to Afghanistan, and the ambition to become a self-reliant state. 

The campaign will focus on four themes: natural resources and stability -- the threat of illegal mining; corruption in the judicial sector; prevention of corruption; and corruption in the security sector.
Two of the four themes in this year's campaign are new -- namely corruption in the security sector and prevention of corruption. 

Mellbin told Anadolu Agency the theme about corruption in the security sector has been chosen because for years this issue has been standing in the way of an efficient fight against insurgents in Afghanistan.

Just this month, there were at least three “green on green” attacks, claiming around 30 lives in which Taliban infiltrators in the security forces killed their Afghan policemen. 

Allegations about corruption in procurement for the security forces have forced President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to personally supervise all such contracts.

“This needs to stop -- if we want to achieve peace in Afghanistan we need to show the insurgents that there are no way they can win in the battlefield -- and we will only do so if we have efficient security forces,” the EU ambassador in Afghanistan said.

As the new Afghan year approaches in two weeks, the Taliban are expected to yet again declare another year of offensives that has been testing the patients of the Afghan government and its backers. 

The two years -- 2015 and 2016 -- during which the nation-wide security responsibilities were with the Afghan forces have proved to be the deadliest for them.

The EU’s anti-graft campaign in Afghanistan has been focusing on elimination of corruption in the lucrative mining sector. 

A day earlier, an Afghan watchdog The Afghanistan Anti-Corruption Network claimed that out of 217 contracts inked by the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum with private firms last year, the ministry took $10 million as bribes. 
This is on top of the illegal mining going on in restive parts of the country.

“Illegal mining has developed in the wrong way. Afghanistan's mining industry has never been as active or as profitable as it is today -- but it has never less profitable for the Afghan state. It undermines international investments in Afghanistan and hinders the efforts to become self-reliant,” the EU ambassador said.

Illegal mining has been declared as the second-largest source of income for Taliban only second to narcotics.

To win the trust of its backers, the Ghani administration has been working hard to put in place some sort of order and transparency in its affairs. 
The newly-formed National Procurement Council, which is chaired by Ghani overlooks all government procurement contracts. These among other measures have been appreciated by the international community, but the EU is not fully impressed.

“No matter how hard to stomach, the Afghan government as well as the international Community must recognize that our attempts to stop illegal mining have failed,” Mellbin added.