PAN, June 28, 2008

Afghanistan ranks 172 in corruption index

The United States in recent past has expressed his deep concern over the increase in corruption.

Lalit K Jha

Confirming that corruption is now a deep rooted malice in the country, a global corruption index has placed Afghanistan on 172nd spot in a list of 180 countries.

The Global Corruption Report 2008 released by Transparency International a global coalition against corruption -- gives Afghanistan just 1.8 points out of a total score of 10; reflecting that corruption has gained ground during the post-Taliban era.

Malalai Joya: "This situation continues because, of the billions of dollars that Afghanistan has received from the international community, most of the money has gone into the pockets of the warlords and druglords that the U.S. and its allies have imposed on our country....", March 3, 2008

In simple words Zero means highly corrupt and 10 stands for highly clean government. As such Burma and Somalia have been ranked 179. Denmark, Finland and New Zealand with 9.4 score each have topped the list; followed by Singapore and Sweden who have scored 9.3 points out of 10.

The report comes at a time when the world's seven largest economies and Russia urged Afghanistan to clean up its act on corruption and drugs. Same was the concern raised by the international community when they met at Paris early this month for the donor's conference.

The United States in recent past has expressed his deep concern over the increase in corruption and the inability of the Karzai Government to effectively tackle it.

Among Afghan's immediate neighbor's Pakistan is placed at 138 with 2.4 points and Iran is ranked 131 with 2.5 points.

With water being the theme of the annual report, Transparency International through a case study shows how local power plays and corruption seize water resources.

"Instances of unequal participation also occur when armed militia leaders, well-connected figures and large landowners force the election of their own nominee as water master and skew water distribution in their favour," the report said.

In one settlement near the Atishan canal, a single absentee landowner had the right to 95 per cent of the water in a secondary canal, and all decisions regarding allocation lay solely with him or his representatives, it said.

Despite international pledges to combat such corruption, the Afghan government and its leading donor countries have been slow to develop mechanisms to prevent these practices in large swathes of both rural and urban Afghanistan, said the report.

Yet, policy planners on the ground are increasingly able to differentiate between traditional practices harmful to sharecroppers, women and the landless peasantry and practices that provide social cohesion and development, it said.

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