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Most Corrupt Country Award Goes to Afghanistan

Afghanistan is considered the world's most corrupt country, ranking roughly on par with North Korea and Somalia in an annual survey of 176 nations published on December 5 by Transparency International (TI). TI is a Berlin-based global corruption watchdog that compiles annual corruption rankings. In the last year's survey, Afghanistan was slightly above North Korea and Somalia, tying with Myanmar in 180th place.

“Most Corrupt Country Cup”

Afghan civil society groups used the opportunity provided by the release of the survey to organize anti-corruption rallies. Such rallies were held in eights out of the country's 34 provinces. The goal of the events was to “[promote] national unity, eliminate corruption, and bring peace and stability to the country”.

On December 8, civil society activists in Bamyan (aka Bamiyan) province awarded [fa] an effigy of Afghan President Hamid Karzai with the ‘Most Corrupt Country Cup'.

An effigy of Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, with the ‘Most Corrupt Country Cup’ in Bamyan. Image provided by Mahdy Mehareen.

An elderly laborer from hands the cup to Karzai's effigy. Image provided by Mahdy Mehareen.

Dawood Wasl, one of the organizers of the event, said [fa] in a BBC interview [fa]:

شما شاهد این واقعیت تلخ هستید که در۲۰۰ متری من، مردمی هستند که درقرن ۲۱ درمغاره هایی زندگی می کنند که ۲۰۰۰ سال قبل ساخته شده اند و وزیران کابینه سفرهای میلیون دلاری می‌کنند و خرج یک شب شان برابر با اعمار سرپناه برای مغاره نشینان می شود

You see a harsh reality that within 200 yards [of me], some people live in caves dug 2,000 years ago, while Cabinet Ministers travel abroad on trips that cost millions of dollars. One night of their stay [in luxurious foreign hotels] costs as much as it would cost to provide shelter for those who still live in caves.

Corruption has been among the main challenges faced by Afghanistan over the last decade, hitting the poor segment of the population the hardest, according to the country's anti-corruption authorities.

Foreign countries have provided Afghanistan with billions of dollars in aid. Yet many Afghans believe [fa, pdf] that most of the aid money ends up in the pockets of high-ranking government officials. Chairperson of Transparency International has suggested that “As much as $1 billion of the $8 billion donated [to Afghanistan] in the past eight years has been lost to corruption”.

A banner hanging from “The Lantern”, a symbolic sign indicating that the residents of Bamyan province still do not have electricity. Image provided by Mahdy Mehareen.

Netizens’ reactions

Afghanistan's place in the global corruption rankings has also angered the country's netizens.

Humayoun Behzad tweeted:

@behzadjee: 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index — Bravo Afghanistan you score highest!!

Kawoon Khamosh wrote:

@kwnmk: Upset: Afghanistan is the darkest country in corruption among 174 countries :(

And Rohullah Yakobi tweeted:

@kohandeh: It is official, Afghanistan is the most corrupted nation on earth. Well done to Mr Kazai & all who supported him

Daily Outlook Afghanistan explained why corruption persists:

[C]orruption has cracked Afghanistan from within. This is because there has been no consistent effort to curb it in the last eleven years. Those who are involved in embezzlement of billions of dollars roam freely inside and outside Afghanistan as their affiliation with certain strong political figures turns out to be heavier than Afghan laws.

While the Afghanistan National Reconciliation group on Facebook proposed a radical solution to corruption:

No doubt Afghanistan falls in that [bottom] category, but what can be done to clean Afghanistan from corruption? The answer is; Afghanistan should have a non-corrupt leader who can hang a couple of corrupt individuals and that will be the end of corruption in Afghanistan.

Effigy of Afghan president, with pictures alleging corruption on his behalf. Image provided by Mahdy Mehareen.

Editor's note: Besides Mongolia which ties with seven other countries in 94th place, all other countries in Central Asia are among the 50 most corrupt nations in the latest TI rankings. Kazakhstan is 133rd in the list of 176 countries, sharing the place with Russia and four other nations. Kyrgyzstan ties with Guinea in 154th place. Tajikistan is 157th, together with another two countries. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan tie in the 170th place, just slightly above Afghanistan.

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