Afghan agency members resign, cite bias – SFGate

News & Insights
Jul 16, 2012
Seven senior officials of AISA, the agency in charge of foreign investment and business licenses in Afghanistan, have resigned to protest the corrupt practices of the newly-appointed agency chief.

Afghan agency members resign, cite bias – SFGate.

Just days after President Hamid Karzai assured the United States and international donors that he was serious about fighting corruption, seven top members of the agency that promotes investment in Afghanistan resigned to protest what they said was rampant nepotism, corruption and mismanagement in their organization.

In a letter sent to Karzai late Thursday, the seven senior members of the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency accused the new head of the agency, appointed two month ago, of disregarding proper hiring procedures and instead promoting friends who shared the same tribal or ethnic allegiance or belonged to the same political party. They said they had no choice but to resign.

The seven officials said the agency, whose mission is to promote private business investment by Afghan and international companies, had enjoyed a good reputation among investors. But, they wrote, “we can no longer argue that AISA is free from corruption.”

As Karzai has come under increasing pressure to stop corruption, the resignations came at a critical time for the country. With U.S. and coalition troops leaving and international donors cutting their aid budgets, the government is trying to attract outside investment to stimulate an economy that has relied heavily on aid and military spending.

The allegations, aired at a televised news conference by those who signed the letter, ignited another debate about corruption in Afghanistan.

On Sunday, an international donors conference in Tokyo pledged $16 billion over four years for the country’s economic development. But for the first time, the pledges included a condition that the Afghan government focus on reducing corruption.

At that conference, Karzai conceded that corruption had undermined the legitimacy of his government. Foreign governments have helped pay for anticorruption efforts, but Afghans have often quashed high-profile prosecutions of senior officials.