By Zabihullah Ihsas
An anti-corruption official in the northern zone on Saturday alleged the menace of administrative graft was widespread in Balkh province.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOOAC) head for the northern zone identified land-grab incidents as one of the worst manifestations of graft.
Shamsullah Javed said that Balkh was one of the nine provinces in the northern zone where the illegal occupation of state and privately-owned land was rampant.
“In Balkh, there are three kinds of encroachment on land: One government department seizing the property of another, security forces occupying government land and individuals taking unlawful possession of people’s land,” he explained.
Unauthorised townships are part of the problem, according to Javed, who revealed that of 60 housing schemes in Balkh, 52 were executed illegally.
Similarly, he pointed out, land plots in industrial parks had been distributed to certain people. For instance, he said, nearly 300 houses had been built inside industrial parks in the 6th district.
Regarding corruption in provincial departments, he said: “Government servants, from top to bottom, are involved in the scourge.” He particularly referred to embezzlement in the customs department.
However, the HOOAC official acknowledged receiving support from Governor Atta Mohammad Noor for dealing with the challenge. Apart from the governor’s house, all other departments were rife with graft, he claimed.
Javed complained: “Some people, whose interests are hurt by investigations into corruption cases, are creating problems for us.” He blamed the municipality, the agriculture department and the provincial court for refusing to cooperate with his office.
Inadequate awareness about the anti-graft law, disenchantment with the country’s political future, low salaries and lack of punishment to the accused were the main causes of corruption, he concluded.