As surely as autumn leads to winter, and cover-ups follow fraud, the Karzai regime’s so-called “anti-corruption” chiefs are making noises about ridding the Western-backed government of bad guys once and for all.
The Afghan people are justifiably sceptical, as they hear their ballot-stuffing president blowing hot and cold on the issue.
For example, Karzai hot: “I will launch a campaign to clean the government of corruption.”
Versus Karzai cold: “These problems cannot be solved by changing high-ranking officials. We’ll review the laws and see what problems are in the law, and we will draft some new laws.”
As any Kabul schoolgirl will tell you, it’s not bad laws that threaten women’s education and women journalists, and it isn’t bad laws that have looted the quarter-trillion dollar U.S.-dominated military and civilian aid initiatives.
Crooks are responsible for these offenses, many of them prominent faces in Karzai’s cabinet and palace cohort, aided and abetted by their faceless accomplices in the shadows, strongmen and warlords and thieves of all description. Corrupt human beings constitute the malignancy within the regime – which Karzai refuses to excise.
Which is not to say there are not honest lawmen and women in Afghanistan’s parliament and ministries. Many faithful public servants wish fervently to root out the ghouls.
Trouble is, they've been sidelined by the emissaries of the same foreign governments whose money has been stolen and wasted, and whose young men and women are dying on the battlefield while Kabul’s fat cats thrive.
Let’s remember how we got here.
To cite just one outrage: Karzai’s appointment to a top crime busting post of a functionary who spent time behind bars in the United States for selling heroin to an undercover agent in Caesar’s Palace (see page 15 of skyreporter.com's Recent Stories: “MPs Slam Karzai’s Jailbird Anti-Corruption Chief”, posted Sept. 6, 2007).
Too often, it has been foreign “friends”, including those in the U.S. and British embassies, who have been responsible for derailing prosecutions. Witness the regime’s Attorney General, Ishaq Aloko, and his failed attempt to investigate the outrageous misconduct of his predecessor in the AG’s chair, Abdul Jabar Sabet.
Just over a year ago, Aloko sent a formal order to the Interior Ministry to detain Sabet and deliver him to the Attorney General’s office. Specifically, Aloko asked that Sabet be prevented from leaving Afghanistan, so as not to block “investigation of criminal activities”.
The probe came undone when the U.S. embassy issued Sabet with a visa to travel to New York and Washington, where Sabet’s supporters in the Bush administration’s Justice Department had always turned a blind eye to his alleged criminality. This abuse continues under the present administration. (See “Shamed Lawman Begs Karzai To Drop Criminal Investigation” and “US Officials Shield Accused Kabul Crony From Justice” on page six of Recent Stories.)
Upon his return to Kabul, Sabet successfully begged Karzai’s pardon. He even stood, for a time, as a candidate in this year’s disastrous presidential election.
This week, while not mentioning his roguish predecessor, Attorney General Aloko told reporters that the regime will create a special court to prosecute corrupt ministers. Specifically, he stated that “ministers who were previously in cabinet” will go to jail and be forced to pay back misused funds. In this way, he claims, corruption could be eliminated within six months.
The reopening of Jabar Sabet’s case will be a litmus test for Aloko’s pledges, particularly regarding the ex-AG’s role in triggering the Kabul Airport heroin trafficking scandal in 2006.
Also prominent among those who should face prosecution is the disgraced former Interior Minister, Zarar Muqbul. Skyreaders will remember the man who in just a few years went from owning a shop and a few acres of land near Charikar, to amassing wealth on an immense scale, with holdings in Afghanistan and Dubai.
Zarar Muqbul was fired by Karzai not long after Sabet’s dethroning. It is widely known that his business interests continue to thrive.
But if Aloko were to take down Muqbul, where does that leave Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf? Sayyaf is Afghanistan’s leading land-grabber, a throwback militia commander with enough covert “business interests” to leave Karzai’s crooked brothers Mahmood, Qayoom and Wali in the shade.
But this scoundrel is almost certainly safe from Aloko’s writ, for Sayyaaf is not only an obdurate and wily member of parliament, he’s arguably the Karzai regime’s most insidious behind the scenes power broker.
The same goes for Gul Agha Sherzai, a brigand of such outrageous excess that Karzai was forced to relocate him from Kandahar to Jalalabad. (Gul Agha’s business concerns in Kandahar were left in the care and control of one Wali Karzai, reputed heroin Khan and part-time C.I.A. asset.)
Once in Jalalabad, the U.S. military seemed happy to participate in Gul Agha's preposterous makeover as “The Bulldozer”, the Pentagon’s go-to guy for getting wholesome things done in a hurry.
Word that NATO will form a "task force" of international military and police investigators rings equally false. Will the alliance finally investigate Karzai's hard-drinking Minister of Defence, Rahim Wardak, and his grasping son Hamid?
As revealed here two years ago, Hamid has raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in Pentagon contracts for his father's ministry. His "security companies" have been linked to strong-arming in Kabul and "right of passage" bribes to the Taliban in the provinces.
It is in defence of this Frankenstein’s feast of incompetence and criminality that President Obama is asked by his generals to deepen America’s well of red ink, while committing more young men and women to the lawns of Arlington, Virginia.
Some tough decision. The Commander-in-Chief's only viable order is “No More."
Otherwise, he risks inheriting more than just the Afghan quagmire from George W. Bush, but blame for it as well.