The U.S Ambassador to Kabul, Hugo Llorens, this week warned that corruption would kill Afghanistan if left unchecked and called on all Afghans to help curb the scourge.
Llorens said in a statement that government “should be beyond reproach.”
“Afghanistan had made real progress in its march toward democracy and prosperity, webs of corruption in the government and business sectors continue to hold the country back from its full potential.
“Cases of bribery, graft, and nepotism erode the public’s faith and trust in the very institutions they rely on for protection, justice, and the opportunity every Afghan deserves. When Afghans hear of corrupt deals taking place, or are forced to pay bribes to receive essential services, they have every right to feel outraged.
“The government, after all, exists to work on the average citizen’s behalf, and should be beyond reproach,” Llorens said.
He pointed out however that corruption was not just an Afghan problem and that elected officials and business leaders world over, “including in the United States”, can fall prey to corruption.
However, he stated that in all instances justice could prevail if the rule of law was strong and if people demand transparency and accountability from their leaders.
“Corruption is a cancer that will kill Afghanistan if left unchecked, and it’s certainly important for all Afghans who love their nation to not let that happen,” he said.
He said he was encouraged by major anti-corruption steps already taken by Afghanistan’s leaders, such as creating a National Procurement Authority to improve transparency within the government’s procurement system and establishing the Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC), which has prosecuted several government officials, including a two star general from the Ministry of Interior and a Provincial Council Chairman from Herat, for corruption.
He also said that President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah were both committed to encouraging transparency, building a professional merit-based civil service system, appointing more capable and professional officers to lead the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, and using technology to limit opportunities for corruption.
“At the same time, I would like to take a moment to also recognize the many good and honorable Afghan patriots who risk their lives in the fight against graft and corruption. They are some of the unsung heroes of this nation. Sadly, as we saw this week, they sometimes pay the ultimate price. I once again extend my heartfelt condolences to the two Afghan anti-corruption officials with the Major Crime Task Force who were brutally murdered this week. I believe their sacrifices will not be in vain,” he said.
Llorens also said the U.S Embassy in Kabul and its international partners were working more closely with Ghani and Abdullah to root out corruption.
But he pointed out that enduring change would come as the Afghan people increasingly demand efficiency, transparency, and responsiveness from their elected officials.
In conclusion he said: “It will take a lot of hard work, but reducing corruption at all levels is more urgent than ever. Everything the Government of National Unity does to fight corruption will help strengthen the bonds of trust with Afghan society and represents the only viable way this country can reach new levels of development, stability, and prosperity.”