They are masters of corruption in Kabul – so what will Chris Carter be doing to clean things up?

It’s a bloody shame Radio NZ did not take the opportunity to subject Chris Carter to a proper interview this morning.

The bugger who questioned him was much too preoccupied with reminding us of Carter’s past, such as his use of taxpayer-provided perks.

But Carter is being despatched to help clean up the corruption in a country where they take their corruption seriously and are masters at it.

Former Labour MP Chris Carter says he won his new anti-corruption job with the United Nations in Afghanistan through answering a job advertisement in The Economist.

Mr Carter confirmed yesterday that he would be taking up the role in Kabul.

This should have been a rich vein for an interviewer.

According to the latest rankings by the outfit that does this sort of thing, the world’s least corrupt countries are Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore.

The most corrupt is Somalia, followed by Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.

See?

They take their corruption seriously in Afghanistan.

It’s a measure of the level of venality in this country that Chris Carter was given headline treatment by news media for using political perks to buy flowers for his boyfriend and a massage.

If the Afghans get wind of the level to which he has stooped, he will be a laughing stock in his new job.

That’s where the interview should have taken us.

We know all about his extravagant use of travel expenses and other bits of carry-on including his being forced out of Labour for plotting against leader Phil Goff.

But he will be in Kabul for up to two years and expects to carve out a career with the UN.

Here’s some feel for what corruption is all about in Afghanistan.

In a moment of candor, Afghanistan’s deputy attorney general said he had arrest warrants for high-ranking government officials, but he feared arresting them.

In Kabul, accusations of corruption are frequent, but convictions are rare. Afghans say they encounter corruption at every turn — from paying their electricity bill to electing their president. They discuss it constantly, but not usually in such a public forum as an open session of Parliament. And it’s not usually the deputy attorney general doing the talking.

“A deputy minister of this government has been sentenced to five years by a court of law,” said Deputy Attorney General Rahmatulla Nazari. “But to go and arrest him, we would need a battalion of policemen. We admit it — we have these kinds of problems arresting high officials. If we were to go and arrest him, there would be shootout and a bloodshed, and innocent people would die.”

Nazari later said at least 20 corruption cases on his docket involved senior government officials, but because many of them are warlords with armed militias, it’s not possible to arrest them.

Then there’s this from The Guardian –

Corruption has permeated every layer of Afghan society in the past 10 years, affecting everyday lives and sullying the highest levels of government.

In an Asia Foundation report last year, 55% of Afghan respondents said corruption was a major problem in their daily lives, up from 42% in 2006.

Despite funding to tackle corruption, efforts by Afghan and international officials are thwarted at every turn. Ordinary Afghans now pay on average $158 (£98) per bribe, double the level of two years ago, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Transparency International named Afghanistan as the world’s second most corrupt country, along with Burma and after Somalia.

So maybe he should find a friendly policeman to help him with his corruption-busting.

Nah.

Afghans do not hold the police in high regard.

Three in five see the police as corrupt, more than a quarter have personally seen a policeman use narcotics, and more than half think filing a complaint about police misdeeds would have no effect on the situation or make it worse, according to a U.N. survey from late last year.

Resentment also runs high against police seeking bribes to pad their salary.

What about an appeal to the President?

It’s worth a try – but The Guardian pointed out:

The president, Hamid Karzai, has gone out of his way not only to curb anti-corruption initiatives but also to blame his western backers. He has at various times claimed they are responsible for the collapse of Kabul Bank, for the fraud marring the 2009 presidential elections, and indeed for the vast bulk of corruption in the country.

So how is a gay ex-MP from Down Under going to deal with that?

That was the question Alf wanted asked.

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