"Nine years into the American-led war, it’s no longer enough to say that corruption permeates the Afghan state. Corruption, by and large, is the Afghan state. On many days, it appears to exist for no other purpose than to enrich itself. Graft infests nearly every interaction between the Afghan state and its citizens, from the police officers who demand afghani notes to let cars pass through checkpoints to the members of Karzai’s government who were given land in the once empty quarter of Sherpur, now a neighborhood of grandiose splendor, where homes sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Bribes feed bribes: if an Afghan aspires to be a district police officer, he must often pay a significant amount, around fifty thousand dollars, to his boss, who is often the provincial police chief. He needs to earn back the money; hence the shakedown of ordinary Afghans. In this way, the Afghan government does not so much serve the people as it preys on them. Last year, Transparency International ranked Afghanistan the hundred-and-seventy-sixth most corrupt country out of a hundred and seventy-eight, surpassed only by Somalia and Myanmar.And so it goes; thievery, deception, and lies - just another day in the warlord citadels in the highlands of Asia.
“It’s a vertically integrated criminal enterprise,” one American official told me."
Despite the deep skepticism that the Karzai government has prompted in Washington, the corruption appears to have got worse. One of the reasons is the war itself. President Obama’s deadline for beginning his withdrawal of American forces later this year confirmed for many Afghans that time is running out. “Right now, this country is all about raping and pillaging as much as you can, because there is no faith in the future,” an Afghan businessman told me.The most tragic part of this, for me, is that there are millions of my countrymen who will never see this as the reality of central Asia, who will persist on seeing this ridiculous, idiotic misadventure as a "war on terror" or a "clash of civilizations". It is one thing to be blind. It is quite another to take up the gouge and blind oneself.
The businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told of a recent dinner with a number of Afghan officials: “I said to them, ‘Look at the Taliban. They believe in their cause, and that sustains them. You people have no cause. You don’t believe in anything.’ And these guys just sat there in their chairs. They agreed with me.”