Corruption amongst the collaborators!

  • Who made Kabul corrupt?

    Pious bromides about tackling corruption in Afghanistan cannot hide the fact that the buck stops in Washington, Sunday 12 September 2010 15.00 BST

    Ahmad Wali , brother of n President Karzai, who has been reported by the New York Times to be simultaneously a major player in the illegal opium trade and on the payroll of the CIA. Photograph: AP

    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.

    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.

    Ramin Seddiqui, the director of the Zahid Walid's diesel import business, filled me in on how the business grew: first, a series of lucrative contracts to pour concrete for a Nato base, as well as portions of the US embassy being rebuilt in Kabul and the city's airport, which was in a state of disrepair.

    On a plot of land in downtown Kabul acquired for a pittance by Fahim,

    Abdul Hasin financed the construction of a high-rise building dubbed "Goldpoint", which now houses dozens of jewelry shops.

    Soon, the company was importing Russian gas, and not long after that, Abdul Hasin set up the Gas Group, which markets bottled gas to households and small businesses.

    Beginning in the winter of 2006, Zahid Walid won over $90m in contracts from the Afghan ministry of energy and water to supply fuel to the diesel power plants in Kabul.

    Hasin's epic default hardly makes him the only businessman whose dealings deserve closer scrutiny – his business partner is Mahmoud Karzai, brother of the president, who flipped a house Dubai's Palm Jumeirah with the Kabul Bank's former chairman, Sher Khan Farnood.

    Karzai was quoted this week saying: "Making a profit on a house is beautiful."

    Mohammed Zia Salehi, the chief of administration for the national security council who was arrested – then released, at President Karzai's behest – in a corruption investigation, appears to have been on the CIA payroll for many years, as is Ahmed Wali Karzai, another brother of the president.

    What is to be done about these gentlemen?

    Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon official who now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Titled "Time to Look in the Mirror", the report correctly notes that low-level corruption is not the problem:

    "Unfortunately, the worst aspects of this corruption are largely the product of our mistakes.

    The fact is that we are at least as much to blame for what has happened as the Afghans, and we have been grindingly slow either to admit our faults or to correct them."

    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? © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

  • Shimatoree, before commenting on your column on honesty, let us tackle this one perhaps. Afghanistan was an honest country until the foreign invasion. What has happened since as detailed to some extent in the Guardian article posted is a mirror image of how corruption began and spread in Pakistan. Let's just call courruption a cancer. In Afghanistan it's in its first stages. Perhaps treatment leading to a cure is still possible. In Pakistan, it has metastasised throughout society. If only we could kill the patient and bring him back to life again!

    Afghanistan's return to health and sanity I can see coming. Ours, I fear, might take a much, much longer time to achieve.

  • MG-

    I am more optimistic about Pakistan.

    What Pakistan has is a young super-intellectual class of young people- both men and women which is sophisticated and learned - capable of reflection and imagination.- an example being Talat Hussain who I feel is a prototype of the new Pakistani and many in the information technology industry to mention just a few.

    Afghanistan on the other hand does not have the educated class that is essential for progress in a modren state. All they have is zealots( Talibs) and the old corrupt class which is ready to join any new invader.They do not have the Talat Hussains and that is why future is going to be a bit clouded. Yes the Talibs can bring a system of Law and order of the harsh variety but it will take a very long time to reach the stage where Pakistan stands today.

    All we need is a few honest men at the helm and we are going to the races.

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