Realization of good governance in Afghanistan was one of important promises of President Ghani at the beginning of his term, whose one of the most important indices are counted to be maintaining transparency and tackling corruption.
President Ghani took the office while Afghanistan was being considered as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to the reports of international institutions. From the other hand, the Ghani administration had to make decisive struggle against and eliminate corruption in Afghanistan in order to grab the financial assistance of the international community. Hence, steps on tackling corruption have been taken during the four year term of the National Unity Government (NUG); however, they were accompanied by deficiencies and challenges and thus the government struggle against corruption was not successful at all and, therefore, Afghanistan is still considered as one of the most corrupt counties in the world.
The President Ghani anti-corruption strategy, the 4-year achievements of government in the field and the reasons behind failure of government in this regard are discussed here.
President Ghani Anti-Corruption Strategy
The NUG leaders have been calling the struggle against corruption among their priorities both during their electoral campaigns and after taking the office. The Chief Executive of NUG, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, however, had got manifesto or written plan neither during his electoral campaigns nor after taking the office; but President Ghani had allocated a part of his Manifesto on how to tackle corruption and following the four-year work of NUG, we will conclude that most of the anti-corruption interventions are realized by the President.
In his Manifesto, Ashraf Ghani had made 19 promises regarding struggle against corruption and had frequently emphasized on accountability and transparency. In the Manifesto, he had called the lack of legal registration of the assets as well as an effective legal system as main reasons behind administrative corruption in the government and thus had proposed the following solutions:
- Reforms in the Ministry of Justice, General Attorney’s Office, Courts and Police;
- Legal registration of lands, assets and liabilities;
- Evaluating the public contracts;
- Preventing smuggle and illegal exports;
- Controlling ports and highways through the related organs;
- Taking measures against buying and selling government positions. 
After the NUG became established, President Ghani announced his anti-corruption strategy in 20 promises through presenting the reform article in the 2014 London Conference.
The President’s anti-corruption strategy could be summarized in developing anti-corruption policies and laws, creating anti-corruption bodies and commissions, making efforts to follow the big anti-corruption cases in person, enhancing the anti-corruption efforts prior to international conferences and introducing a number of senior officials to the Justice and Judiciary organs.
Four-Year Anti-Corruption Achievements of Government
President Ghani started its anti-corruption struggle with reopening the Kabul Bank case. Kabul Bank was established by Shir Khan Farnood in 2004 which was bought by the Central Bank of Afghanistan (Da Afghanistan Bank) due to the risk of collapse in 2010. Approximately 1 Billion US Dollars became disappeared in the case which resulted in detention of a number of debtors; however, the influences were exempted from the intervention. After President Ghani reopened the case, some accused were tried to imprisonment and repaying their debts to the Kabul Bank and some other’s assets became frozen. Some of the accused were imposed exist bans on. Reopening of the Kabul Bank case resulted in decline in the rank of Afghanistan (fourth from second), according to the report of the Transparency International.
In second step, President Ghani presented his anti-corruption strategy in the 2014 London Conference where he called corruption in the big contracts, weakness of rule of law, and abuse of the legal system as the most important factors behind administrative corruption.
In 2015, the government was able to obtain 228 Million US Dollar from the debtors of the Kabul Bank; however, the government’s anti-corruption efforts and strategy were not coordinated and, in some cases, the NUG leaders were in obvious confrontation. One of these cases were release of an accused in the Kabul Bank case (Khalilullah Ferozi) from the prison and allowing him to sign the contract of a city in presence of senior government officials, i.e. Minister of Urban Development and Housing and former advisor to Afghan president on reforms and good governance. The case emerged doubts and eventually caused in Afghanistan to secure second place among the world’s most corrupt countries, according to the indices of Transparency International in 2015.
Establishment of the National Procurement Commission heading by President in person was another step taken by President in 2015. The National Procurement Commission was convening weekly meetings in the ARG (Presidential Palace) in order to reevaluate the closed contracts. Meanwhile, the greatest mine contract of (Aynak Copper) was published for the purpose of transparency in 2015.
In 2016, some steps of government have caused it to secure eighth position in compare to the previous second position among the world’s most corrupt countries in the ranking of Transparency International. The steps were as following; establishing High Council for Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption, inauguration of the anti-corruption justice center, expelling 600 judges, 20 attorneys and 25% of the customs’ employees, holding passports of more than 100 senior officials, preventing the embezzlement of 220 Million US Dollars in 1250 contracts and a number of other steps in this regard.
In 2017, Afghanistan, once again, became positioned at the top of the world’s most corrupt countries and secured fourth position after Somalia, South Sudan and Syria by receiving 15 scores similar to 2014. Although the Afghan Attorney General’s Office reported on studying the 1526 files of Afghan senior officials; however, the Transparency International still considers the Afghan government as failed in this year. Afghanistan Transparency Watch call the internal disputes in the government as main reason behind failure in the anti-corruption efforts.
In 2018, President Ghani created another audit office for the propose of monitoring the activities of senior government officials and it was, then, for the first time that an ex-minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdul Raziq Wahidi had presence in an open court hearing. However, the reports indicate increase in the rate of administrative corruption in the year. UNAMA had called the corruption in Afghanistan as inhumane and brazen in its report on evaluating the government efforts from the beginning of 2017 till April, 2018.
Whether President’s Anti-Corruption Efforts Were Successful?
A number of domestic and international organizations like Transparency International, Asia Foundation, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and the Afghan Transparency Watch publish annual reports on the corruption conditions in Afghanistan.
Based on reports by organization observing anti-corruption efforts, there was widespread corruption in mine sector, security organs, justice and judiciary organs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, education, customs, national assembly and other organs and they President efforts on eradicating corruption were yet to be fruitful in the last four years. Besides that, the President was not able to fulfill a number of its promises either.
The establishment of numerous organs by President for the purpose of eradicating corruption took place while there were other similar bodies already existed like Supreme Audit Office, anti-corruption high organ, High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption and etc.
Generally, the anti-corruption efforts are made prior to the convention of international conferences. For example, the Kabul Bank case was reopened as the 2014 London Conference was getting closer, registration of senior governmental officials took place as the 2016 Warsaw Conference was getting closer and the Anti-Corruption Justice Center became inaugurated as the Brussels Conference was getting closer.
Briefly, existence of numerous anti-corruption organs and lack of a powerful and capable organ in this regard, political and security instability in the country and lack of coordination in anti-corruption strategies were behind failure in anti-corruption efforts in this term.
A brief overview of the President’s 4-years anti-corruption efforts indicates that more work other than merely establishing some anti-corruption laws and organs have been done; however, these efforts were not only inadequate but they also have brought any great achievement with themselves either.
 Ashraf Ghani Manifesto