Afghanistan: June 8, 2003

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Family and tribal favoritism is an enduring problem in the new army and central government. Any Afghan with a senior position, immediately comes under intense pressure from his family and tribal friends to provide jobs for them. This sort of thing is an ancient Afghan tradition and hard to resist. But this means that the most qualified people do not get the jobs, and other ethnic groups get upset. In addition to the family and tribal ties, there are also the ethnic ones, with their being Indo-European (mainly Pushtun and Tajik), Turks (Uzbeks) and Mongol (Hazara)  tribes. Eliminating these sources of corruption are impossible in the short run, but the problems they cause can be reduced by admitting there is a problem and keeping it from getting out of hand.  So far, the newly trained Afghan army battalions have performed well. But it is feared that tensions over ethnic favoritism might cause unrest, and even rebellion.

Favoritism and corruption are common in other areas of government, and for this reason, most of the foreign aid money is given to NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations like the Red Cross) and foreign government groups so that rebuilding projects can be accomplished with a minimum of theft. But this slows down the use of reconstruction money, and upsets Afghans because it spotlights the corruption problem.

 

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