Wednesday, November 18, 2009

War poverty and corruption

Transparency international in its latest report has suggested that war-stricken countries suffer from the highest prevalence of perceived public sector corruption.  The 2009 index of corruption perception lists Somalia, Afghanistan, and Myanmar as the most corrupt countries of the 180 states that they surveyed.  Bangladesh and Pakistan were both ranked 139. 

On the other hand, the prosperous economies were ranked least corrupt with New Zealand being the least corrupt country.


Transparency International's report suggests a causal relationship between violence and corruption.  However, poverty, being a confounding factor is neglected in the analysis.  What if the poverty is causing violence, which leads to corruption and then further poverty.


Another report released at the same time by a British aid agency Oxfam reports that the war-stricken Afghans hold poverty and employment as the main causes of conflict in their homeland. 

Based on a survey of Afghan nationals, Oxfam found Afghans to be more weary of the corruption and weakness of the central government than the violence perpetrated by the Taliban.  According to the survey, 20% Afghans reported being tortured and 10% reported being imprisoned at least once since the Soviet invasion in 1979.

These results are alarming to say the least for western policymakers and their counterparts in Pakistan.  While most outsiders are holding Taliban and Al qaida for Afghanistan’s plight, Afghans on the other hand are holding poverty, unemployment, and corrupt government for violence and conflict.


Source: BBC (2009)

There is no doubt that the Taliban pose a serious threat to the stability of Afghanistan and the region.  However, given that the Taliban belong to the Pushtun tribes in Afghanistan, who constitute the majority, the post-NATO Afghanistan would involve some governance role for the Taliban. 

The goal therefore should be to ensure that when such a time arrives, the Taliban are disarmed and are compelled to take part in the democratic process.  Given the bloodshed  in the past three decades that has left orphans widows spread across the Afghanistan’s landscape, this is certainly easier said than done.

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