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Default Afghanistan: A Timeline of Corruption - 12-03-2011, 08:42 PM

Dying to Corrupt Afghanistan

American soldiers are dying so that Afghan politicians can continue looting
U.S. tax dollars. Foreign aid has long been notorious for creating
kleptocracies — governments of thieves. The $50+ billion foreign aid that
the United States has dumped on Afghanistan over the past decade is a
textbook case of how foreign handouts drag a nation down.

Corruption has been a huge issue ever since the United States installed a
puppet government in Afghanistan. Following is a partial timeline of the
major developments:

In January 2002, shortly after the United States announced that Afghan
exile Hamid Karzai would be the new Afghan ruler, Karzai promised to
prevent any corruption with foreign aid. He assured donors that he would
take “personal responsibility” to protect their contributions from abuse.

By September 2003, Karzai was vigorously backtracking on his promise to
end corruption. In a New York speech to the Council on Foreign Relations,
he declared, “There are too many things that we cannot do something
immediately about, and corruption is one of those things. The people are
complaining very much. They are angry because of it. It’s something that
worries me too very much.”

In December 2003, Karzai proudly announced the creation of an
“independent graft-busting agency.” The presidential decree creating the
agency promised that it would “monitor governmental organizations in order
to prevent bribery and corruption in the country.” Reporting on the decree
helped Karzai’s image in Washington, but no other impact from the change
was perceivable.

In June 2004, Karzai visited Washington in part to “fight back against
charges of corruption that have come up against” him, CNN reported.

In December 2004, Newsweek interviewed Karzai and headlined his promise
to deliver an “honest, accountable, and austere government.”

In 2005, as the conflict in Iraq heated up, attention shifted away from
Afghanistan. However, between 2005 and 2009, Afghanistan’s “corruption
rating” went from merely bad to worst in the world (except for Somalia,
which doesn’t have a government), according to Transparency
International, a highly respected nonprofit.

By November 2007, even Karzai had become outraged by the pervasive
looting. He declared at an Afghan conference on rural development, “All
politicians in this system have acquired everything — money, lots of
money. God knows, it is beyond the limit. The banks of the world are full of
the money of our statesmen. The luxurious houses [built in Afghanistan in
the past five years] belong to members of the government and parliament,
not only in Kabul, but here and there. Every one of them [has] three or
four houses in different countries.

On January 1, 2009, the New York Times declared, “The state built on the
ruins of the Taliban regime now often seems to exist for little more than
the enrichment of those who run it.” One Afghan truck driver bitterly told a
reporter, “Every man in the government is his own king.”

Also in January 2009, a United Nations study reported that 60 percent of
Afghans identified corruption as the nation’s biggest problem — even worse
than the war with the Taliban. The report estimated that Afghans must
pay more than $2 billion in bribes to government officials and others each
year — equivalent to almost a quarter of the country’s gross domestic
product. That would be akin to Americans’ paying more than $3 trillion in
bribes each year. One official noted, “The Afghans say that it is impossible
to obtain a public service without paying a bribe.”

In August 2009, Afghanistan had a presidential election. The U.S.
government hoped that the result would legitimize Karzai and spur
international support for his regime. The PR exercise was marred after
Karzai’s team was caught stealing a million votes. Regardless of the
pervasive vote fraud, the Obama administration still insisted that Karzai
was a “legitimate” leader.

In September 2009, Pentagon officials touted Kandahar as the most
important battleground against the Taliban. The Washington Post reported
that Kandahar “is filled with ineffective government officials and police
officers whom the governor calls looters and kidnappers. It is the
corruption of the police — and that alleged of senior government officials
— that many Kandaharis say has been the principal reason for the Taliban’s

In October 2009, when the U.S. government was still considering whether
to send more troops to Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported that
“one U.S. military official said discussions within the Obama administration
are ongoing about whether it is even possible to ‘surge’ enough troops to
overcome the corruption.” The fact that the U.S. foreign aid spurred the
corruption was left out of that particular discussion.

In November 2009, Karzai became indignant that anyone would doubt his
government’s anti-corruption bona fides: “Where we have found facts on
corrupt practices by senior government officials, we have acted: they
have gone to prison. We like our partners to have a lot of respect for
Afghan sovereignty. Afghanistan is extremely sensitive about that.”

In December 2009, in his West Point speech announcing plans to send far
more American troops to Afghanistan, President Obama declared, “The
days of providing a blank check are over…. Going forward, we will be clear
about what we expect from those who receive our assistance… We
expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable.”
Obama received applause for the speech’s commitment to good
government, and business continued as usual in Afghanistan.

In January 2010, at his inauguration for his second term, Karzai proclaimed,
“Fighting corruption will be the key focus of my second term in office.”
Washington applauded.

In May 2010, Obama and Karzai held a joint press conference, and Obama
slobbered all over his foreign tool, stressing that “President Karzai
committed to making good governance a top priority. And I want to
acknowledge the progress that has been made, including strengthening
anti-corruption efforts, improving governance at provincial and district
levels, and progress towards credible parliamentary elections later this

In June 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder praised Karzai for his
anti-corruption efforts, saying, “We applaud President Karzai for his actions
and encourage him to continue his efforts, as much work remains to be

Later that month, American newspapers had front-page stories of the
Karzai government’s squelching bribery investigations of its top officials.
Even more damaging were reports that billions of dollars in cash had been
openly (and illegally) transported from the Kabul airport to Dubai. Rep. Nita
Lowey, chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee on foreign
aid, declared, “I do not intend to appropriate one more dime for assistance
to Afghanistan until I have confidence that U.S. taxpayer money is not
being abused to line the pockets of corrupt Afghan government officials,
drug lords, and terrorists.” Lowey’s indignation did nothing to prevent the
Democratic leadership from deluging Afghanistan with billions of dollars of
more aid in a bill Congress passed later that year.

In July 2010, Integrity Watch Afghanistan released a survey that
concluded that Afghan corruption had “doubled since 2007.” But the
following month, Karzai demanded an investigation of U.S.-backed
anti-corruption teams who were nailing tainted Afghan officials. Defense
Secretary Robert Gates “assured Afghan officials that any efforts to stamp
out corruption need to be led by the Kabul government,” according to the
Washington Post.

In September 2010, the New York Times revealed that the CIA had been
making secret massive cash payoffs to top Afghan government officials in
order to protect them from corruption. The Times explained, “Called ‘top-up
raises,’ they had been paid by the American government to keep qualified
people and insulate them from corruption and political interference.” As
long as the payoff recipients followed U.S. orders, there was apparently no
danger of “political interference.” One U.S. government official explained,
“The corruption we need to combat is the corruption that undermines the
fight against the Taliban.” Thus, as long as the officials who were
accepting the secret payoffs appeared to be anti-Taliban, there was no

The purpose of anti-corruption declarations in Washington and Kabul is to
provide a fig leaf for propping up the most corrupt government in the
world. Unfortunately, as long as American voters perceive American
politicians as opposing corruption, the politicians are absolved —
notwithstanding that their policies ensure that the corruption will continue.

Pervasive corruption is the inevitable result of dumping massive quantities
of U.S. dollars on foreign governments. The ultimate purpose of foreign aid
is to buy allegiance and submission abroad. For politicians, buying
allegiance isn’t corrupt — it is simply politics. There is no bureaucratic
cure for the perverse incentives created by flooding foreign nations with
U.S. tax dollars.

Dying to Corrupt Afghanistan » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

To advise others is an easy matter, the difficulty is accepting advice -- since it is bitter for those who follow their
own inclinations and desires

-Imam al Ghazali
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