Sunday, September 12, 2010

Who made Kabul corrupt?

Pious bromides about tackling corruption in Afghanistan cannot hide the fact that the buck stops in Washington

Pratap Chatterjee, Sunday 12 September 2010

(Left: Corrupt stooges are the norm, not the exception)

"....Most of the 250,000 government employees in Afghanistan receive their salaries via electronic transfer to Kabul Bank, the country's largest private bank, which is reported to be on the verge of collapse. Blame has been cast on the biggest borrower – a man named Abdul Hasin, who was given $100m for a variety of projects which he has not repaid. Hasin happens to be the half-brother of the vice president of the country, Mohammed Qasim Fahim.

A little less than a year ago, I visited the heavily guarded headquarters of Abdul Hasin's business conglomerate – Zahid Walid – in the wealthy Kabul neighbourhood of Wazir Akbar Khan, not far from the even more heavily fortified US embassy. Neither Hasin nor Fahim were wealthy when the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, but as the de facto leader of the Northern Alliance, Fahim was perfectly placed to profit from the new opportunities created by the collapse of the Taliban....

There is absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone in Kabul that corruption is endemic among Afghanistan's ruling elite. But who granted the contracts, put them on the payroll and gave them the money?

So, when are we going to see those CIA and Pentagon officials in Washington DC facing charges?"

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