A Horror Story of the Afghan Government

Many times we do not realize the issues sitting from afar of a country. In Afghanistan there is the threat of Taliban – which is pretty serious – but then where Taliban is not there.. there is corruption. Corruption that is institutionalized by Hamid Karzai and his coterie and also the Western powers, US included.

Here is an excellent case study of Dr. Mohammed Atash, the former president of Ariana, Afghanistan’s largest commercial airline – and how he was subjected to hell by Karzai, the politically connected managers, and the Western Companies.. to a position that he ran away from Afghanistan back to the US.

Let’s start off with how a representative of an American company pounded him….

For one thing, global gas prices had nearly doubled between May 2005 and May 2006, and Ariana found itself paying $1,000 per ton of jet fuel. The cost of simply powering the aircraft was complicated by another source of corruption: the American-owned fuel company Tryco, which held a monopoly on providing Ariana’s supply. Atash says a representative from Tryco one day walked into his office and tried to bribe him into maintaining that monopoly. When Atash refused, the Tryco employee threatened him: “You think you know people. Now you will see who I know.”

Karzai’s double speak – one for public consumption and another for “real – also affected the way Atash could run the airlines which he was trying to turn around despite very very trying situation!

Not only was Atash targeted but all those who wanted to do good by the company they wanted to serve.. including Captain Assad Sharza, Ariana’s Vice President of International Affairs. Sharza is a Western educated pilot imprisoned in 1990s by Taliban and the when he came back despite his work he was made to go through hell when his payments were rejected. By the time he was ready to go back he was broke!

By the end of his stay in Kabul, which the new administration talked him into as his wife lay dying back in New York, Sharza found himself having to pay $45,000 of his own money in incidental expenses. “It is such a corrupt country,” he said, stifling a laugh. “From Karzai, all the way down.”

The lesson one draws from this case study is very important: Throwing money at any problem by the US does NOT solve any problem! Unless you understand the issues on the ground, no matter how much money you throw at any issue, nothing will be solved! In fact if anything.. things will only get worse!

I hope to see that change under Obama.. but I am not sure I am seeing any signs of that as yet.

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