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Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?

- DR. Abdul-Qayum Mohmand

CNN International News with Christiane Amanpour

Analysis of “CIA World Factbook” (1981-2012): Dimensions of anti-Pashtun Conspirac
US forces in Afghanistan nearly destroyed vital airfield
We Are Those Two Afghan Children, Killed by NATO While Tending Their Cattle
Former Islamist Warlord Vies for Afghan Presidency
Pakistan releases top Afghan Taliban prisoner in effort to boost peace process
Losing the War in Afghanistan
Obama’s troop increase for Afghan war was misdirected
Afghan security vacuum feared along "gateway to Kabul"
Objections to U.S. Troops Intensify in Afghanistan
The Great Afghan corruption scam
War zone killing: Vets feel 'alone' in their guilt
Was Osama for Real? And Was He Killed in 2001?
Afghanistan withdrawal: The risks of retreat
The Real Reason the US Invaded Afghanistan
The Definition of a Quagmire
Huge Uncertainty' in Afghanistan
Controversial ID Cards Expose Ethnic Divisions In Afghanistan
Afghanistan: The Final Curtain Call for NATO?
Afghanistan After 9/11: A Mission Unaccomplished
Why Should Taliban and Other Insurgents Refrain from Negotiation With the US & NATO? By: Dr Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, Ph

Exclusive: Karzai family looks to extend boss rule in Afghanistan.

Intrigue in Karzai Family as an Afghan Era Closes
For Afghans, Two Outrages, Two Different Reactions
Double blow to west’s Afghan strategy
Does the Taliban need a diplomatic voice?
Afghanistan: Lessons in War and Peace-building for US
Afghan women opposed by former allies
Q+A - Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy
Haqqanis: Growth of a militant network -BBC
Afghanistan shelves plans for ambassador accused of fraud
Afghan nominated as ambassador to Britain was accused in US of fraud
U.S. deal with Taliban breaks down
The Loneliness of the Afghan President: Karzai on His Own

NATO's Third Alternative in Afghanistan

On the Road: Interview with Commander Abdul Haq:- The Tragedy of Abdul Haq
When the Lion Roared: How Abdul Haq Almost Saved Afghanistan
AFGHAN WARRIOR: THE LIFE & DEATH OF ABDUL HAQ
Pakistan’s ISI: Undermining Afghan self-determination since 1948
Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan, Military Occupation, Corruption and the Rights of the Afghan People
M. Siddieq Noorzoy
Why Isn’t the UN Investigating and Prosecuting the U.S. and NATO for War Crimes Committed in Afghanistan?
Corruption and Warlordism:
Abdul Basir Stanikzai
In Afghanistan, U.S. contracts aren’t crystal balls, but they come close
The great Afghan carve-up
Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
Terry Jones Actually Burns a Qur’an and No One Notices
Q+A-Are Afghan forces ready to take over security?
Guantánamo Bay files rewrite the story of Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora escape
Winning Afghan hearts, minds with explosives
Afghanistan’s Mercenaries
KABUL’S HORIZONS
Who is winning Afghanistan war? U.S. officials increasingly disagree
Afghanistan: The Trouble With The Transition
From the Archives: In Quest of a ‘Greater Tajikistan’
The 1980s mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad
Afghanistan's Karzai complains about interference
Karzai, US ambassador at odds over private security

Karzai Tells Washington Post U.S. Should Reduce Afghan Operation Intensity

Excerpts from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's interview with The Washington Post
What the Afghans Want
New US approach to Afghanistan insurgency: Vindication for Pakistan?
Putting Some Fight Into Our Friends
Afghans 'abused at secret prison
Why We Won’t Leave Afghanistan or Iraq
Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan
Canada’s elite commandos and the invasion of Afghanistan
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
Five myths about the war in Afghanistan
Marine who resigned over ‘conscience’ speaks at MU
The Afghan media may have grown since Taliban rule ended, but not so press freedoms
Mystery holes and angry ants: another Afghan day
Kabul Bank's Sherkhan Farnood feeds crony capitalism in Afghanistan
Marjah War
Operation Moshtarak: Which way the war in Afghanistan?
Q&A: Why Marjah, why now?
In Jalalabad, hope is fading
Seeking reconciliation, US units meet remote Afghanistan tribes
Once Again, Get the Hell Out! "Ending the War in Afghanistan"
Blackwater Kept a Prostitute on the Payroll in Afghanistan; Fraudulently Billed American Tax Payers
Wild West Motif Lightens US Mood at Afghan Bas
In southern Afghanistan, even the small gains get noticed
 Afghanistan war: US tries to undercut Taliban at tribal level
 Soviet lessons from Afghanistan
Are actions of 'super-tribe' an Afghan tipping point
Taliban: Terrorist or not? Not always easy to say
Q&A: Who else could help in Afghanistan?
Vietnam Replay on Afghan 'Defectors'
Washington's Refusal to Talk about Drone Strikes in Pakistan Meets Growing Opposition
Afghanistan summit: Why is the US backing talks with the Taliban?
Taliban's leadership council runs Afghan war from Pakistan
Why buy the Taliban?
2 Afghanistan conferences: No solutions
An Alternative to Endless War - Negotiating an Afghan Agreement?
Do the Taliban represent the Pashtuns?
Afghanistan asks ex-presidential contender to tackle corruption

Tehran Sets Conditions For Attending London Conference On Afghanista

Pakistan says reaches out to Afghan Taliban
Taking It to the Taliban
The Afghan Taliban's top leaders
How significant is Mullah Baradar's arrest?
Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander
What's the Quetta Shura Taliban and why does it matter?
What's behind latest Taliban attack on Kabul? See Images of the Attack By WSJ

Pakistan Version of Islam and Taliban ?????
Lahore fashion week takes on Talibanization in Pakistan

Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear

After Attack, Afghans Question Motives or See Conspiracies
Gates: Taliban part of Afghan ‘political fabric’

IG: Afghan power-plant project ill-conceived, mismanaged

Taliban intensifies Afghan PR campaign

Taliban Overhaul Their Image in Bid to Win Allies
Karzai plans to woo Taliban with 'land, work and pensions'
Peace scheme mooted for Taliban
Bombs and baksheesh
But By All Means, Continue the Happy Talk on the Afghanistan War
Karzai Closing in on Taliban Reconciliation Plan
Last Exit Kabul
How To Get Out Without Forsaking Afghanistan's Stability
Afghan Recovery Report: Taleban Buying Guns From Former Warlords

'Jesus Guns': Two More Countries Rethink Using Weapons with Secret Bible References

Gun bible quotes 'inappropriate'
Text of Joint declaration of Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan trilateral meeting
Garmsir Protest Shows Taleban Reach
Rugged North Waziristan harbors US enemies
The Arrogance of Empire, Detailed ( The Untold Story of Afghanistan )
Appointment of Afghan counter narcotics chief dismays British officials
In Afghanistan attack, CIA fell victim to series of miscalculations about informant
Rebuilding Afghanistan: Will government take hold in this post-Taliban town?
Rare bird discovered in Afghan mountains
Blackwater, now called Xe, in running for work in Afghanistan despite legal woes
How Soviet troops stormed Kabul palace
Afghan children 'die in fighting'
Afghanistan war: Russian vets look back on their experience
U.N. Officials Say American Offered Plan to Replace Karzai 
Learning From the Soviets
U.S. faults Afghan corruption body's independence
Intensify fight against corruption, says Afghan meeting
Afghan ministers cleared of charges
Drone aircraft in a stepped-up war in Afghanistan and Pakistan
U.S. Air Force Confirms 'Beast of Kandahar' Secret Stealth Drone Plane
Kissinger's fantasy is Obama's realit
Taliban shadow officials offer concrete alternative
Talking with the Taliban
20. Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart
'Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten': Afghan warden
Why we should leave Afghanistan
US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan
Pakistan to US: Don't surge in Afghanistan, talk to Taliban
A Plan C for Afghanistan
Finding decent cabinet is Karzai's big challenge
A way to get around Karzai in Afghanistan
Corruption fight boosted by 'Afghan FBI'
US demands Afghan 'bribery court'
Afghanistan plans court for corrupt ministers
The man leading Afghanistan's anti-corruption fight
Win hearts and minds in Afghanistan to win the war
Gates blocks abuse photos release
New U.S. Afghan prison unveiled, rights groups wary
War in Afghanistan: Not in our name
How the US Funds the Taliban
Afghan gov't says UN representative out of line
Cabinet of Warlords
Afghanistan and the lessons of history
Clinton says Karzai ‘must do better’
Recognizing the Limits of American Power in Afghanistan
After Afghanistan election, governors seek distance from 'illegal' Karzai
Karzai was hellbent on victory. Afghans will pay the price
Matthew Hoh: Please refute what I'm saying, we are stuck in the Afghan civil war
As US looks for exit in Afghanistan, China digs in
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistani
The Afghan '80s are back
Pashtun peace prophet goes global
Afghan Road Builder's Dream Thwarted by Violence
A white elephant in Kabul
The Afghan Runoff: Will It Be a No-Show Election?

Ashraf Ghani- Afghanistan's Disputed Election Complicates U.S. Strategy

On Assignment: Into the Maw at Marja

Patrick Witty & Tyler Hicks
The New York Times


Afghanistan Cross Road CNN


The last frontier


Bruce Richardson
 

Articles

CIA: Buying peace in Afghanistan?

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
CIA Ghost Money: Karzai Confirms U.S. Gives Funds To Afghan National Security Team
What the CIA’s cash has bought for Afghanistan

Khalilzad: A Satan Whispering in the Hearts of Men
The Afghan trust deficitt
Will We Learn Anything from Afghanistan? Part 1
Getting Out of Afghanistan: Part 2
William R. Polk
General’s Defense on Afghan Scandal Ducks Key Evidence
Afghans want Taliban peace talks
Bombing Weddings in Afghanistan: It Couldn't Happen Here, It Does Happen There
Hekmatyar's never-ending Afghan war
Covert American Aid to the Afghan Resistance; A Top-Secret U.S. Foreign Policy Plot to Induce and Effect Soviet Military Intervention
Afghan brain drain fears as Karzai urges education reforms

US considers launching joint US-Afghan raids in Pakistan to hunt down militant groups

Real security in Afghanistan depends on people's basic needs being met
Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy
Former Taliban Officials Say U.S. Talks Started
Taliban ready for talks with US, not Karzai government
Emboldened Taliban Try to Sell Softer Image
Leaked NATO Report Shows Pakistan Support For Taliban
Insight: Few options for Afghan, U.S. leaders after Kandahar massacre
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Daoud Sultanzoy, Tolo Television
NATO’s measured exit plan in Afghanistan faces new obstacles
BFP Exclusive: Karzai Clan Attorney Threatens US Journalist, Uses Intimidation Tactics
Afghanistan Chronicles
Arduous path to Afghan 'end-game'
Fear in the classrooms: is the Taliban poisoning Afghanistan's schoolgirls?
A comment on the recent events of student poisoning in Afghanistan
Rape Case, in Public, Cites Abuse by Armed Groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Peace Talks Hit Brick Wall
THE ANATOMY OF US’S DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN
VOICES OF EMPIRE: FROM CIA’s CULTURAL GREAT GAME TO GLOBAL GREAT GAME TODAY
WHITE PAPER FOR THE PERMANENT PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN
King Karzai
A Federal System of Government is Not Suitable for Afghanistan
CHINA AMO DARYA OIL DEAL
Analysis: Where Afghan humanitarianism ends and development begins
U.S. Envoy: Kabulbank Was 'Vast Looting Scheme'
Speaking with the enemy: how US commanders fight the Taliban during the day and dine with them at night
Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Musery
How to Win Peace in Afghanistan
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Criticism of Afghan War Is on the Rise in Britain
Troops 'fighting for UK's future'
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Afghans still skeptical about Obama
US Defence Department struggling with public release of report on bombing in Afghanistan
Afghanistan on the Edge
Q+A: Who are the Pakistani Taliban insurgents?
Afghanistan Past & Present
Bombs for Pashtoons and Dollars for Punjab
Help! I'm being outgunned on K Street!
ANGELS CHASING DEMONS: “Jesus Killed Mohammad”!
U.S. tested 2 Afghan scenarios in war game
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama hearing range of views on Afghanistan
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Afghans tricked into U.S. trip, detained
In the Afghan War, Aim for the Middle
Obama pulled two ways in Afghanistan
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Gates: Mistake to set time line for Afghan withdrawal
Afghans question what democracy has done for them
High stakes in Afghan vote recount
Two Perspectives On Resolving The Afghan Postelection Crisis
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistanis
The Afghan '80s are back
How to Lose in Afghanistan
US in Afghanistan proposes revamped strategy
US 'needs fresh Afghan strategy'
US looks to Vietnam for Afghan tips
Lessons from Vietnam on Afghanistan
Afghan Pres. Skips Country's 1st TV Debate
A proud moment for Afghanistan
Rival to Karzai Gains Strength in Afghan Presidential Election
Afghan presidential candidate withdraws in Karzai's favor
America and international law
Hamid Karzai pulls out of historic TV debate just hours before broadcast
Karzai says no to first Afghanpresidential debate
Afghan election: Can Karzai's rivals close the gap?
Karzai opponents hope to beat him in second round
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Karzai’s gimmick
Well-known traffickers set free ahead of election
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Why the Pentagon Axed Its Afghanistan Warlord
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
The Irresistible Illusion
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit
We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Echoes of Vietnam
A Response To General Dostum
Obama orders probe of killings in Afghanistan
Obama admin: No grounds to probe Afghan war crimes
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
The Irresistible Illusion
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit

We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan

The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Stakes High in Afghanistan Ahead of August Elections
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse
Petraeus Is a Failure -- Why Do We Pretend He's Been a Success?
Fierce Battles and High Casualties on the Frontlines of Afghanistan
End the Illegal, Immoral and Wasted War in Afghanistan, says BNP Defence Spokesman
Outside View: Four revolutions
Pakistan's Plans for New Fight Stir Concern
France: liberty, equality, and fraternity – but no burqas
 

 

 

 

 

Echoes of Vietnam

Even the Coalition commanders in Afghanistan wonder if they can win the war
Will history repeat itself in Afghanistan?

British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again


 


Highway Robbery on Major Afghan Road  
Source: ARR Issue 439 By: Enqelabi Zwan  

IWPR reporter finds evidence of arbitrary, undocumented taxation on road through Laghman province.

Local officials in Afghanistan’s Laghman province are taking tens of thousands of US dollars a month in fees and taxes from drivers using the Kabul-Jalalabad highway, and the way the money is collected indicates that it is being pocketed.

An investigation by IWPR contributors over a three-month period reveals that various forms of irregular fees are being imposed on the road.

First, the toll that drivers are legally obliged to pay is not subject to the mandatory documentation. Second, truck drivers have to pay bribes to let their overweight vehicles pass. Third, local government officials charge road users a “municipal tax” which does not even exist. And all the while, traffic police are levying their own informal “fees”.

Although Afghan media have reported on this issue before, this is the first attempt to track corrupt practices on the Kabul-Jalalabad road.

Since extortion takes place on an individual basis, gathering evidence is a laborious process. Interviews, videos and photographs gathered in the course of this investigation suggest that staff from three areas of government bodies are involved – the Ministry of Public Works, municipality employees, and the traffic police.

A rough calculation based on IWPR’s observations suggest that officials net around 50,000 dollars a month, meaning a potential loss to the treasury of millions of dollars over recent years. And that is only on one road, in one Afghan province.

ROAD TAX PAYMENTS GO UNDOCUMENTED

On the stretch of road running through Sorkhakan district, the Afghan public works ministry has a checkpoint tasked with levying a toll on light vehicles as well as trucks carrying freight. The checkpoint has a staff of 12 revenue officers from the ministry, who are required to collect the toll in Afghan currency, issue a receipt to the driver, and transfer the funds to the relevant government bank account.

The officers do collect fees, but negotiate a discount for drivers who agree not to take a receipt. The lack of paperwork, and the fact that fees are collected in Pakistani rupees rather than afghanis, suggest that the funds will never reach Kabul.

Pakistani rupees, known locally as “kaldars”, have been in common use in eastern Afghanistan for the last two decades. Even though they are not legal tender in Afghanistan, they are widely used for day-to-day transactions.

The going rate at the Sorkhakan checkpoint is between 100 and 600 rupees (one to six US dollars) depending on the size of the vehicle. The official rate, calculated by the kilometre for the distance between Kabul and Torkham on the border with Pakistan, is about 320 afghanis for large vehicles and 50 to 110 for smaller ones.

“Tax officials take money off me every time I come through Laghman,” Mir Wali, driving a truck full of flour and rice to Kabul, told IWPR. “It isn’t more than 300 or 400 rupees. They’d stop my truck if I refused to pay up.”

IWPR interviewed another man, Akbar, driving a truck carrying cement, at a restaurant stop on the approaches to the checkpoint.

“Whenever the transport officials stop me, I put 400 kaldars in their hand and drive on. If I asked for a receipt, they’d take 300 afghanis instead of 400 kaldars [six dollars instead of four],” he said. “Since I gain by paying 400 kaldars, I forget about the receipt.”

For this investigation, an IWPR contributor stopped 75 cars and trucks on the road, although only 25 drivers were prepared to be interviewed and have their voices recorded. They gave accounts that confirmed Akbar’s description of the process.

Over the course of six days, the reporter also monitored vehicles as they left the checkpoint, and discovered that in the space of one hour, 80 drivers paid fees, all of them in rupees and virtually none with a receipt.

At an average rate of, say, 50 vehicles an hour paying 100 rupees a time, the checkpoint must be taking at least 3,600,000 rupees a month, about 36,000 dollars.

Sayed Nusrat Agha, director of public works in Laghman, has direct responsibility for road tolls collection in the province. Interviewed by IWPR, he confirmed that the checkpoint staff employed by his ministry were required to accept only afghanis in payment and to issue receipts.

Shown two video clips in which staff were seen breaking both these rules, he said, “this is all lies” and angrily left the room.

IWPR also approached the tax officers themselves on four occasions, but they refused to comment on the grounds that the ministry had instructed staff not to speak to the media.

BRIBES FOR OVERWEIGHT TRUCKS

Another section of the public works ministry has responsibility for ensuring that freight vehicles are within the prescribed weight limit of 40 tons. Here, too, IWPR has uncovered unorthodox practices.

There is a healthy flow of commercial traffic up and down the highway, especially of vehicles transporting cement, rice, fresh fruit and other foodstuffs to the Afghan capital.

At an office in Kamar Mashal in Sorkhakan district, the trucks are driven onto a set of digital scales to check their weight and ensure that they are not carrying a load of over 40 tons . According to the rules, offending drivers have to remove any excess freight on the spot and pay a cash fine.

But a sample group of 12 haulage drivers told IWPR that they were regularly five, ten or even 20 tons over, and simply handed over sums of 10,000-20,000 rupees (100 to 200 dollars) to the weighing station staff so that they could drive on with their load intact.

“I have 45 tons of cement in my truck, five tons more than the maximum set by the government,” Jawid, a driver coming up to Kabul from the Pakistani city of Peshawar, said. “A few minutes ago, when the machine showed I was five tons over, officers told me to go over to that old guy and he’d sort me out. I went up to the man, who cooks food for the officers. He told me to pay 20,000 rupees and make the problem go away.”

Jawid duly paid the sum and went on his way.

“The officials are afraid of being caught taking bribes, so they use their cook as broker,” he alleged.

The reporter monitored the weighing process over several days, and concluded that with a minimum of five large trucks coming through every hour and paying an illicit fee of 10,000 rupees a time, the total inflow of cash-in-hand payments could be at least 6,500 dollars a month.

Staff at the weighing station refused four requests for an interview, saying – like their colleagues at the highway toll point – that their superiors had expressly barred them from doing so.

Drivers and the traders who employ them say the practices at the Laghman weighing station are so much part of the routine that they just factor illicit payments into their costs.

“By law, we have to load our trailers up to 40 tons, but the traders ask us to carry up to 50 or 60 tons, because they know the weighing officials won’t say anything as long as they get paid,” driver Mir Wali said.

Nasrullah, a merchant originally from Laghman and now living in Kabul, has been bringing in cement along the highway for the last two year.

“Transporting 60 tons of cement to Kabul is more profitable for us than taking 40 tons at a time,” he said. “We pay the drivers 1,100 dollars extra for the additional 20 tons, and we know they pay more than half of that sum as a bribe to government officials and keep the rest themselves. But we still make a huge profit by doing this, as transporting a separate load of 20 tons of cement from Torkham to Kabul would cost us up to 3,000 dollars.”

“MUNICIPAL TAX”

A third fee that drivers using the Kabul-Jalalabad highway have to pay is described as “municipal tax”. Such a payment does not exist in Afghan law, but local government officials collect it both on the highway and on another road from Laghman’s provincial centre Mehtarlam to Kabul.

IWPR spent ten days monitoring and videoing officers collecting 20 rupees from every driver. Operating from a specially-built office by the roadside, they stand guard from seven in the morning to seven in the evening. They are armed with one-metre-long sticks, and threaten drivers who are reluctant to pay up.

Drivers interviewed at various points along both roads confirmed the practice.

“I take passengers from Laghman to Jalalabad four or five times a day, and every time I go through the Sorkhakan area, the municipality people take 20 kaldars from me and don’t give me a receipt,” taxi driver Maruf said.

Maruf said this had been going on for the last ten years, and nothing had ever been done to stop it.

IWPR’s reporter calculated that six vehicles an hour translated into 28,800 rupees or nearly 300 dollars a month.

To find out more about the payments, the reporter went to Mohammad Fahim, who heads of the municipality office in Sorkhakan. He had been filmed taking money from drivers.

“Based on what law, bill or order are you taking 20 rupees from the drivers?” the reporter asked.

Fahim replied, “I don’t know.”

He then said he was not authorised to give interviews, adding, “Go to the mayor and ask him why the money is collected, and where it goes.”

The reporter duly went to see Abdul Moqim Abdullah, the mayor of Mehtarlam. After nine unsuccessful visits, the reporter managed to interview the mayor, who acknowledged that his staff were collecting a tax, although he would not comment on what happened to the money.

Abdullah said “I have told my employees to take ten afghanis [20 cents, equivalent to 20 rupees] from each driver as a tax, but the allegation that they don’t give receipts to the drivers is a lie.”

Shown film of municipality staff collecting rupees and abusing drivers, Abdullah said, “These are not my employees. They belong to the traffic department and [public works ministry] traffic; that’s who takes money from drivers by force.”

After being presented with more evidence, Abdullah conceded that the individuals shown in the footage did work for his administration.

“These actions by these four employees are against the law. I promise I will stop them,” he said.

POLICE FILMED EXTORTING CASH

Yet another hazard for drivers going through Laghman is the traffic police who stop trucks heading from Nangarhar to Kabul and arbitrarily demand payment

IWPR filmed four separate examples of the practice in the Sorkhakan district, and spoke to nine truck drivers who said police had been exacting payment for years. Refusing to pay would simply make trouble, they said, as police would then stop them and accuse them of a traffic offence.

Even at 100 rupees or one dollar, IWPR calculated that police net 180,000 rupees a month, or some 1,800 dollars, over the course of a month.

The traffic police department chief in Laghman, Abdul Samad, told IWPR that officers did demand money from heavy goods vehicle drivers, but insisted there was nothing illegal going on.

“We impose a fine on some trailer drivers and we take money from them. It’s a fine, not a bribe,” he said.

Overall, the picture suggests that little attention is being paid at higher levels of government to tax collection from motorists, that there is at least considerable confusion between legal and illicit practices, and that systems for tracking revenue streams are not being implemented.

Enqelabi Zwan is an IWPR-trained reporter in Afghanistan.

 

 

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