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Corruption can be a destroyer; look what happened to Afghanistan!

Nirendra Dev

Nirendra DevSep 03, 2021, 07:46 AM IST

Corruption can be a destroyer; look what happened to Afghanistan!

Americans, British and German social workers spent time for months in townships like Kandahar, yet they could not understand the real Afghan society.


New Delhi: The US forces' military and strategic fault line and Joe Biden's sense of timing for withdrawal have been analysed and attributed enough for the fall of Afghanistan. But were these the only factors? What reasons were responsible for so fast and unprecedented churning of Afghan society?

An evacuee from the war-ravaged nation says: "Talking of our Afghan society, it is imperative to understand that even Americans lost hope. They realised I think the corruption was so high that no one could be trusted." Even others speak about 'deception' and 'betrayal 'as ways of life. That's why a few of them say many Afghan forces did not fight the Taliban and made things so easy for the insurgents' takeover.

One Sikh businessman from Kabul says, in real terms, the 'dream' about a possible change in Afghanistan life with freedom for women and education had dawned on people by 2005. "It was then that some people started believing in the concept of 'born again' (du-bara janam) for Afghanistan, education and jobs for women, encouraging children for sports and music," says Kawaljeet (name changed).

But the hard work and the symbol of modernity had not been appreciated. "The real problem, I found, was that nobody knew what the Afghanistan civil society wanted. Thus, Americans, British and German social workers also spent time for months in townships like Kandahar, yet they could not understand the real Afghan society."

Another evacuee agreed with him: "I was born and brought up in Kabul, I studied in the US for a while, yet I did not understand the Afghan civil society." Another evacuee, a woman, when asked to identify a major social problem in Afghanistan, said the people's reluctance to take on hardliners was not the real problem, "the most damaging factor is the corruption in the society."

These voices are reflected in the words of Omar Zakhilwal, a former Finance Minister of Afghanistan. He told BBC that: "... even the day the former President (Ashraf Ghani) was fleeing the country, he did not spare." Reports surfaced post-Ghani, moving to Tajikistan and UAE, he had reportedly ran with suitcases full of cash. A news agency report on August 16 claimed that Russia's embassy in Kabul said that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had fled the country with four cars and a helicopter full of cash and "had to leave some money 
behind as it would not all fit in." Ghani later, of course, denied the charge.

Nevertheless, according to one Santosh, "Baksheesh" is a commonly used word. It's an Arabic word, and it has penetrated people's lives. A Hindu woman also agreed about corruption in Afghan society and said- "My father used to say corruption actually came to Afghan life during Russian rule in the 1980s." The Russian word is 'Vizyatka', meaning 'Take it, it's for you', she says.

Many agree no one in Afghanistan could live with a regular or known source of income. Santosh says he had visited India for a family function in the past. "You all are very fortunate. You cannot imagine the life people live in Afghanistan," he said.


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