BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Afghanistan is ready to launch a “name and shame” campaign against high-level corruption and drug trafficking if it gets international backing, a senior minister and ally of President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday.
Education Minister Hanif Atmar said Karzai, a fellow ethnic Pashtun, was prepared to consider action against members of his own entourage if presented with evidence against them.
“We are ready to do that naming and shaming... Six years ago we didn’t want to rock the boat, now it is time for a bold action like that,” Atmar told a security conference in Brussels of the period after the 2001 ousting of the Taliban from power.
“It can certainly happen this year ... The president has said that if we talk about certain people in government, the president has to be provided with evidence and he will decide how to go about it,” he told Reuters later.
Afghanistan, the world’s biggest producer of opium, is ranked 172 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s corruption perception index.
Karzai acknowledged last year that corruption among Afghan officials was rife. The United Nations has named graft as a factor behind the rise in opium production, which has in turn fuelled a violent, Taliban-led insurgency.
Atmar, a technocrat respected as an able administrator, called for international help to ensure full transparency and documentation as cases were investigated.
“We must make sure these people have their basic rights so that when the naming and shaming happens, it should be on the basis of solid evidence. They should not become victims of political rivalry,” he said.
In an apparent reference to the United States’ alliance with some tribal warlords to ease its 2001 invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban from power, the minister said some of those who needed to be “named” were imposed on the Kabul government.
Efforts should also be made to arrest and prosecute suspects currently living outside Afghanistan, Atmar said.
“There must be due process to prosecute them no matter where they are, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Europe, in Britain. We should remove the sense of impunity.”
Writing by Mark John; Editing by Charles Dick