In its annual report, released last week, Transparency International has once again announced Afghanistan among the most corrupt countries in the world. Based on the report, gaining 15 scores, Afghanistan is the fourth most corrupt country among 180 countries after Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria. The report shows that compared to 2016, Afghanistan has performed less in areas of fighting corruption because Afghanistan was the eight most corrupt country in 2016.
In response to this report, the Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) has said that it meant that the National Unity Government is not willing to fight corruption.
What is the NUG’s strategy to fight corruption? How was the past three years of NUG in areas of eradicating corruption? What was the condition of the fight against corruption in 2017? What is necessary to be done to eliminate this phenomenon? These and other similar questions are answered here.
Both of the NUG’s leaders were saying during their electoral campaigns that fighting against corruption were from their most important priorities. President Ghani even has a particular discussion in this regard in his electoral charter.
The NUG’s anti-corruption policy mostly circles around establishing organizations, developing strategies and making laws. The NUG has established the following administration this far to fight against corruption or to work in areas of transparency:
- The Anti-corruption Justice and Judicial Center (ACJC);
- The High Council of Rule of Law and Fight Against Corruption;
- The Special Commission of National Procurement.
These institutions were established at a time that there already existed other similar organizations such as the General Administration of Oversee, and the General Administration of Overseeing the Implementation of anti-corruption Strategy, but no step was held toward the practical reforms and change and still this problem remains the same. The NUG has also failed to try powerful and corrupt senior officials in courts and serve justice.
The past three years of fight against corruption
The NUG started its tenure with taking quick steps in areas of fighting corruption. For instance, the government re-opened the Kabul Bank case, established the National Procurement Commission and banned foreign travels for some of the people accused of corruption and introduced them to prosecutor’s office. At that time, due to taking these steps, Afghanistan was placed fourth (before that it was ranking second) in the ranking index of corrupt countries.
In 2015, the NUG’s anti-corruption policy was not coordinated that is why it only gained 1.1 score out of 10 and once again it became the second corrupt country in the world. In this year, some portions of Kabul Banks debts were paid by the borrowers; however, the release of one of the most important culprits of Kabul Bank case Khalilullah Ferozi and signing the contract of building a small city with him was what brought the NUG’s anti-corruption efforts under question.
However, due to some efforts on behalf of the NUG in 2016, the country fell in the ranks of the corrupt countries to eight country.  These efforts included recording the wealth of government officials, opening ACJC, firing 600 judges (including the judges of all provinces0, 20 prosecutors and 25% of the custom staff, confiscating the passports of more than 100 senior officials, prevention of the embezzlement of $330m in 1250 contracts, etc.
Overall, efforts against corruption was hastening when an international conference was about to be held. For instance in 2014 before the convention of London Conference, the Kabul Bank case was re-opened, before the Warsaw Conference in 2016, the process of recording the wealth of government officials started and before the Brussels Conference (2016), ACJC was established. 
The fourth corruption country in 2017
Overall, 2017 was a year full of problems and challenges for Afghanistan. In this year, the security and stability situation of the country was worse than any year in the past 16 years and this situation also affected the government’s fight against corruption.
Transparency International, based in Berlin-Germany, has once again evaluated the efforts of the countries in the world in areas of fighting against corruption. The 2017 report of this organization shows that once again Afghanistan has gained fewer scores in areas of fighting against corruption. 
This report adds that in 2017, the Afghan government has failed to fight against corruption. However, the Attorney General’s Office talks about achievements in this area and says that since the beginning of 1396 [solar year], they have investigated 1526 cases including the cases of senior government officials.
According to the spokesperson of Attorney General’s Office, due to investigating these cased 54 civil and military officials are banned from traveling to foreign countries and 15 are suspended from their jobs. He said that ACJC had sentenced to punishment 118 people including senior government officials and Military Generals.
IWA has named the government internal differences and political interventions as the main reasons behind the failure of the government in fighting corruption in the past year. Head of IWA Sayed Ikram Afzali has expressed concern over the condition of the fight against corruption and has called upon the government not to intervene in the affairs of the anti-corruption organizations.
On the other hand, several months ago (8 June 2017), President Ghani participated in the third annual Anti-corruption conference of European Union, where he called the Afghan Ministry of Interior as the center of corruption and that the achievements made in areas of fighting corruption in 2017 was not acceptable for him. He insisted that eradicating corruption was one of his important priorities but he said that the complete eradication of corruption needed 10 to 20 years of time.
In 2017, the NUG opened dozens corruption-related cases and also punished some people. Nevertheless, the government is always criticized that it does not investigate high profile corruption cases and that only the small cases of corruption and some unimportant people are being punished and even that is only to show to the world that the government is doing something against corruption.
Overall, the political and security instability in the country, the existence of several anti-corruption institutions, lack of coordination among the various administrations of the NUG, the collative form of the NUG are the most important factors behind corruption in Afghanistan.
Considering the following points will help the government in succeeding in its anti-corruption struggle:
First; this struggle needs a strong will more than anything else;
Second; the government must have a coordinated strategy to tackle corruption;
Third; the existence of several anti-corruption organizations is not efficient, it is necessary to establish a single independent, authoritative, and efficient administration instead;
Fourth; in order to mitigate the issue of corruption in the government administrations, the responsible officials of these administrations should not be assigned on the basis of tribal, ethnic, political and other considerations in the first place. People with no history of corruption must be assigned in the government administrations considering their competence;
Fifth; the rule of the media and religious scholars must not be ignored and a law must be developed to grantee the safety of the vessel blowers of corruption;
Sixth; progress in this area is also connected to the security and political situation. Therefore, in order to end the current political and security turmoil, the government must undertake realistic efforts.