BBC News, September 6, 2007

Powerful "land mafia" grab Afghanistan land

There is a "land mafia" which has stolen 5,000 sq km of land this year.

By Stephanie Irvine

The Afghan urban development minister says land is being appropriated illegally by powerful individuals at a rate of two sq km (0.8 sq miles) a day.

Sherpur was army land until 2003 when Marshal Fahim Khan, then defence minister, parcelled it out to relatives, ex-ministers and former militia commanders for a nominal price.
The Guardian, Aug.28, 2007

Former military commanders, members of parliament and senior officials are seizing land and then selling it on illegally, says Yousaf Pashthun.

There is a "land mafia" which has stolen 5,000 sq km of land this year.

It is another indication of the extent of corruption and the absence of the rule of law in Afghanistan.

One man, who lives in the northern town of Mazar-e-Sharif, told the BBC how an estate that had been in his family for 80 years was taken over by local strongmen.

Homes of poor people were destroyed in Sherpur to built mansions
BBC, Sep. 12, 2003: Miloon Kothari, appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to investigate abuses in Afghanistan, announced that various government ministers including Fahim and Education Minister Yunis Qanuni were illegally occupying land and should be removed from their posts.
Sherpur Scandal ( ) | Buildings of Afghan Ministers and Warlords ( )

They drew up false papers, divided the land up into plots and sold it off for private housing, he says.

Although the original owner has taken the case to court, he is not optimistic since the people who stole his land are wealthy and powerful.

The illegal seizure of government-owned land is also making it difficult for the authorities to carry out development schemes and building projects.

Mr Pashthun says one of the reasons very little is being done about the problem is that many people in positions of power, including the government, are involved in the land mafia.

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