Corrupt police and tribal leaders are stealing vast quantities of reconstruction aid that is intended to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans and turn them away from the Taliban.
In some cases, all the aid earmarked for an area has ended up in the wrong hands. Defence officials in the United States and Britain estimate that up to half of all aid in Afghanistan is failing to reach the right people.
At least five people in Takhar have been murdered in family disputes this month. Homayoon 31 was the last killed in Yangi Qalah district of Takhar province. He was killed by police; the government has arrested three people including two police in connection with the murder. But in a demonstration yesterday around 200 people cried for justice. Farooq 28 said “we want justice. The killing has been going on for too long. Now we know the killers and they should be prosecuted”
Takhar is a province in the north of the country where its considered safe, even in the safe environment of Takhar justice is an illusion.
A joint report by the Pentagon and the US state department, circulated to congressional committees last month, concluded that the Afghan police force was corrupt to the point of ineffectiveness. One Pentagon official told The Sunday Telegraph that police officers had stolen and sold at least half of the equipment supplied by the US, including thousands of cars and trucks.
Among the projects funded by the UK department for development are the purchase of uniforms and winter coats for the Afghan police, a hospital generator and a mortuary.
But it confirmed that some of the US $4 million allocated to projects intended to help internal refugees had been diverted to build vehicle checkpoints.
Niaz Mohammad Sarahadi, governor of Panjwaye district of Kandahar province said “of course thievery happens and it’s a problem and we have recognized the problem. We fired all members of Aid distribution commission and has appointed New members from community elders but since then there has been no assistance. Almost half of displaced people, who left their homes in the last summer clashes between Nato and Taliban, have returned to their home. We want to attract more aid and assist refugees to return to their homes”
There are 42000 Afghan police, equipped by international aid to provide security to around 25 million Afghan people. This is while a handful government officials and MPs have more than 15000 body guards, in addition to hundreds of illegal weapons and expensive cars. We asked Shakir Ahmad of Nangarhar province how leaders could afford the security and why they need it “authorities get their money from foreigners. foreigners only give the money to the leaders not to people just like the past thirty years.” Shakir added “they have bodyguards to be protected from each other, leaders are all involved in dirty businesses and they are all after killing each other”
Nato forces in the south of the country say some Afghan police are guilty of corruption and will steal aid if it is handed out. Tribal and mosque elders have also been accused of seizing goods, including building materials and fuel, and selling them in markets. A Pentagon official said thousands of cars and trucks intended for use by the Afghan police had been sold instead.
Noorulhaq Ullomi an MP heading national security committee of the parliament told us “local leaders are contracted by foreigners to build their bases and implement their projects; local leaders even provide logistic support. Local leaders in some areas have changed to service contractors. There are several military bases around the country the construction of which only worth four million dollar each but NATO says they have built each for up to US $400 million” he continue “there is no way to hold foreign aid nor local leaders accountable for what they do with money”
On Friday, Nato foreign ministers signalled that they would boost their military and economic contributions amid calls for more investment in development projects to win the support of the Afghan population. Liam Fox, the Conservative defense spokesman, said he had heard first-hand of corruption affecting the reconstruction programmes when he visited Afghanistan last summer. “There is increasing corruption from top government officials down, which is making efforts to get reconstruction off the ground much more difficult,” he said.