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Cable reference id: #09KABUL4182
“All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.” — “Refus Global“, Paul-Émile Borduas

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Reference id aka Wikileaks id #241809  ? 
SubjectPervasive Corruption Undermining Ghazni Province's Public Administration
OriginEmbassy Kabul (Afghanistan)
Cable timeMon, 28 Dec 2009 15:40 UTC
ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL
Sourcehttp://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/12/09KABUL4182.html
References09KABUL2807, 09KABUL4088
Referenced by10KABUL175
History
Extras? Comments, 3 media items
VZCZCXRO6520 OO RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL DE RUEHBUL #4182/01 3621540 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 281540Z DEC 09 FM AMEMBASSY KABUL TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4339 INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
Hide header C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 KABUL 004182 SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM, INR/B STATE PASS USAID FOR ASIA/SCAA USFOR-A FOR POLAD E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/19/2019 TAGS: PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PREL [External Political Relations], AF [Afghanistan] SUBJECT: PERVASIVE CORRUPTION UNDERMINING GHAZNI PROVINCE'S PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION REF: A. (A) KABUL 4088 B. (B) KABUL 2807 Classified By: Interagency Provincial Affairs Coordinator Scott Kilner for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d) ¶1.(C) SUMMARY: In recent weeks Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) leadership engaged Afghan provincial and district government officials, law enforcement commanders, and civil society representatives on the extent and nature of corruption in the area. A graphic picture of criminal enterprise masquerading as public administration emerged. The consistency and scope of explicit and detailed allegations lends veracity to charges that pervasive corruption defrauds the people of meaningful government services and significantly undermines popular support for the Afghan government (GIRoA). Credible sources indicate that some of the most senior government officials in the province have chronically engaged in significant corrupt acts: embezzling public funds, stealing humanitarian assistance, and misappropriating government property, among others. The law enforcement resources needed in Ghazni and at the national level to address corruption effectively are lacking, and building that capacity will take time. In the meantime, the PRT will work with the Embassy to develop non-judicial mechanisms to bring greater civil service reform, budget and programmatic transparency, and non-judicial forms of accountability to address systemic corruption. End Summary. GOVERNMENT AS CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE? --------------------------------- ¶2. (C) In recent weeks the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) engaged extensively with provincial and district-level government officials, law enforcement commanders, and civil society representatives regarding the scope and nature of corruption in Ghazni Province. This report includes those examples of recent and possibly on-going corrupt practices that were raised by multiple, credible senior GIRoA officials in Ghazni Province. Most individuals the PRT spoke with were willing to speak openly about corruption in the province; many are well aware of the push by the international community to root out corruption, and may have their own motivations in highlighting corruption by others officials and minimizing attention to themselves. The Provincial National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief Dr. Shah Jahan (strictly protect) even provided a written summary of information contained in NDS files. These conversations paint a picture of criminal enterprise masquerading as public administration in Ghazni. Although the PRT has no capacity to confirm the allegations raised, the consistency of reports alleging corruption among senior government officials is striking. Long-standing criminal operations centered on Deh Yak District Governor Hajji Fazil, Ghazni City Mayor Hakimullah Ghazniwal, Meshrano Jirga member and Tajik community leader Mawlana Abdul Rahman, and Director of Reconstruction and Rural Development Sanai Mayel -- with significant involvement by current Ghazni Governor Usman Usmani. THE GHAZNI ARBAKAI ------------------ ¶3. (C) Afghan National Police (ANP) Chief Brigadier General Sherzai, NDS Deputy Director General Samar, and Khwaja Omari District Governor Disiwall informed us that Governor Usmani and some district governors embezzled funds intended to pay local Afghan "Arbakai" security forces who worked during the election period securing polling sites. (Per reftel B, community based security payments were problematic in many provinces, and there was little transparency relating to the payment mechanisms.) According to these sources, approximately USD 160,000 was dispatched from the Presidential Palace to Governor Usmani to pay the Arbakai. General Samar stated that Usmani kept approximately USD 100,000, dividing the rest between the district governors of Deh Yak, Giro, Zanakhan, Gelan, Qarabah, Ab Band, Moqur, and Ghazni City. Samar said these district governors submitted fictitious lists of Arbakai from their districts and have not distributed any of the payments. (Comment: Considering the general lack of security in these districts, with the exception of Ghazni City and parts of Qarabagh, and our assumption that little or no voting actually took place there on election day, we doubt there were any Arbakai working in these districts in the first place. End Comment.) Khwaja Omari District Governor Disiwall similarly affirmed that no payments were disbursed there to pay 50 legitimate Arbakai. KABUL 00004182 002 OF 004 MISAPPROPRIATING REFUGEE LAND ----------------------------- ¶4. (C) According to both Dr. Jahan"s NDS report and comprehensive reporting by the Ghazni Cultural Association, a local NGO once involved in promoting transparency and independent investigations of corruption, Afghan government officials appropriated land in 2005 outside Ghazni to create a "returnee village," where refugees and Internally Displace Persons (IDP) originally from Ghazni could return and receive a small plot of land on which to build a home. Former Ghazni Governor Patan created a commission, headed by Deputy Governor Hajji Allahyar, to distribute the land. The commission divided the land up into four large sections, each consisting of many small plots. Two of the sections are on a hill and are generally undesirable as real estate, while the other two sections are flat land nearer Ghazni city and ideal for building and development. Most of the land in the flat sections was given to government officials, their relatives -- some of whom were minors, and fictitious refugees. Allegedly, they were later sold for profit. The report of the local NGO was sent to then-Chief Prosecutor of Ghazni, who appointed a team to investigate cases which included the director of refugees and the deputy governor. No indictment was ever issued. NDS Chief Dr. Jahan confirmed that these allegations are largely true. THE WHEAT HEIST --------------- ¶5. (C) According to Deputy Governor Allahyar, Dr. Jahan, Deputy NDS Chief General Samar, ANP Chief BG Sherzai, the Ghazni Cultural Association, the head of the of the Ghazni National Unity Shura, and the District Governor of Jaghori District, senior government officials have long corrupted the World Food Program's (WFP) emergency wheat shipments and Work for Food Program. According to these sources, the governor, RRD line director, and certain district governors are engaged in a scheme to divert WFP wheat and other food items to the black market to be sold. Part of the scheme involves pocketing the money from WFP to pay for transport of the wheat, thus providing the RRD director an excuse to tell the farther out, predominantly Hazara districts that he cannot deliver because he cannot pay for transportation. The Governor allegedly signs transportation contracts, but the wheat is sold and the money embezzled. ¶6. (C) Former Zanakhan District Governor Mohammed Hassan was arrested attempting to sell a shipment and released on order from the governor. (Note: Ref A reports on Mohammed Hassan, who was fired as District Governor of Qarabagh district after he was arrested and charged with rape in the spring 2009; he was released under questionable circumstances and secured an appointment from Governor Usmani as District governor of Zanakhan. Hassan was fired from this post on December 2. End Note.) According to sources, Deh Yak District Governor Hajji Fazil also sold wheat intended for 1,788 families in Deh Yak. Provincial Reconstruction Team officials also recently prevented RRD from diverting wheat intended for Ajiristan District to Qarabagh, where the suspicion was it would either have been sold by the district governor or police chief, or "intercepted" by the insurgency. CHROMITE SMUGGLING TO PAKISTAN, CONTRACTOR SHAKE-DOWNS, PERSONAL ENRICHMENT --------------------------------------------- ¶7. (C) According to Deputy Governor Allahyar and NDS Chief Jahan, Governor Usmani has long been running a chromite smuggling operation into Pakistan from mines in Zanakhan District, as well as Wardak and Logar Provinces, sending his personal security force to escort trucks carrying chromite so they can pass Highway One checkpoints without inspection. According to Allahyar, the chromite trafficking is arranged by Hajji Pacha Han, an Usmani associate from Kandahar who lives in the Governor's official residence. Allahyar said, for example, that Usmani and Hajji Fazil intervened early this year when eight trucks carrying chromite were seized by the NDS in Ghazni. According to Allahyar, Usmani and Fazil secured the release of the trucks and the detained smuggler, Hajji Ibrahim. Allahyar added that chromite smuggling tapered off with the appointment of Ghazni ANP Chief BG Sherzai about six months ago, presumably because Sherzai is a "good and honest man." (Note: This assessment of Sherzai was affirmed by NDS Chief Jahan, among others. End Note.) ¶8. (C) NDS Deputy Chief General Samar and Khwaja Omari District Governor Mohammed Qasim Disiwall informed Task Force KABUL 00004182 003 OF 004 representatives that Governor Usmani and RRD Director Mayel extort bribes and kickbacks from local businesses and PRT contractors. A simple "shake-down," they allege, entails contractors who must pay a bribe to obtain official approvals; harassment for not paying includes having workers chased off job sites by armed men, sometimes by uniformed members of the ANP, is also common. ¶9. (C) Most credible interlocutors also assert that Governor Usmani and his accomplices in GIRoA routinely embezzle government funds and international aid money intended for public administration and humanitarian assistance. According to NDS Chief Jahan and Deputy Governor Allahyar, the governor receives 1.4 million Afghanis per month for administrative and representational expenses, but pockets it; additionally, he allegedly received kickbacks from vendors for official purchases. Recently-fired Giro District Governor Abdulwakil Matin admitted to the PRT that he similarly funds personal living expenses in Ghazni city. COMMENT ------- ¶10. (C) It is difficult to imagine sustainable gains in security, governance, and development agendas without addressing the pervasive corruption that plagues Ghazni's public administration. The foundation of security and governance strategy in Ghazni, as in Afghanistan as a whole, requires popular acceptance of and support for GIRoA authority. Obtaining such support is very unlikely given the current situation -- where sub-national government officials' attitude toward citizens is largely predatory. PRT efforts in Ghazni have been focused on bringing GIRoA officials back to Pashtun districts where they have been absent for years. It is becoming increasingly difficult, however, to convince local Pushtuns that GIRoA presence and development programs portend stability and prosperity. The venality of provincial administration instead turns historical Pushtun skepticism of central government authority into outright hostility. Ongoing and new efforts to link the population of Ghazni to legitimate governance -- short, concerted, and effective efforts to root out corruption -- will pose significant challenges. ¶11. (C) On their own, dismayed provincial law enforcement and judicial institutions are clearly unwilling and incapable of dealing with the scope of corruption they face. Ghazni's provincial ANP and NDS chiefs want to clean up public administration, but admit they remain powerless to tackle the most egregious corruption cases. Senior government officials act with impunity; minor officials use bribery and political influence to avoid prosecution. Ghazni NDS Chief Jahan is blunt about the road ahead: while he wants to see these government officials prosecuted for corruption, doing so would jeopardize his position without producing any meaningful results. Mindful of the above, the impetus and resources needed to address provincial corruption in the near-term must come from outside Ghazni. As NDS Chief Jahan conveyed to the PRT, he would be in a much stronger position to deal with Hajji Fazil, for example, if assured of impartial investigators and secure prosecutorial proceedings in venues outside the province. The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) of the Major Crimes Task Force, which itself is limited in terms of the number of vetted prosecutors, investigators, and judges, has yet to extend its reach into the provinces; a system of effective and direct anti-corruption mechanisms is largely lacking within the international community. ¶12. (C) While public corruption in Ghazni appears pervasive in scope, it lacks significant complexity; much is considered an open secret. Consequently, effective legal action would not require years of work by skilled investigators -- short-term assignment of the right mix of Afghan prosecutorial staff and supporting ANP and NDS investigators, as well as USG mentors, could be sufficient to break the criminal cycle of corruption in Ghazni. However, a major challenge to successful legal action by the GIRoA will be the Afghan legal system's limited institutional capacity. The Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF) currently has four vetted prosecutors and a limited number of vetted investigators to numerous pending corruption cases from all over the country. As a result, the PRT and Task Force will work with the Embassy to develop not only investigative and prosecution tools, but also non-judicial mechanisms to bring greater civil service reform, budget and programmatic transparency, and non-judicial forms of accountability to address systemic corruption. Trusted interlocutors in Ghazni, as is the case elsewhere in Afghanistan, provide us insight into the KABUL 00004182 004 OF 004 activities of nefarious government officials, but they do so at considerable risk to themselves, their families, and associates. Should we not quickly develop mechanisms to root out the current corrupt practices and take a firm stand in Ghazni where corruption is rampant, corrupt government officials will be emboldened and the population further alienated. ¶13. (U) This message was drafted by PRT Ghazni. RICCIARDONE

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