Weekly Alert – II

November 25, 2006

~ Recommended Readings, Viewings, and Events ~

(Note: I have decided to change the format of the Weekend Reading posts (started last week) to include not only recommended readings, but also viewing recommendations and event alerts.)

Here is the second Weekly Alert:

  • Article: “NATO’s Future” – The Economist reports on how NATO came to embody the Destiny’s Child hit “I’m a Survivor!”
  • Map: “Situation Map of Afghan Floods” – A map of the affected districts in Western Afghanistan and emergency responses, created by ReliefWeb.
  • Event: “Afghan Perspectives on Afghanistan’s Transition” – A panel discussion and presentation organized by the Conflict Resolution Forum at Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University -for those of you who live close enough in the area to make it (yours truly is one of the four panelists discussing Afghan perspectives of the recent developments.)

Fighting the Good Fight: Abdul Jabbar Sabit as Afghanistan’s Elliot Spitzer

November 25, 2006

Afghanistan’s new Attorney General Abdul Jabbart Sabit views his mission as a Jihad against corruption, and so far, he is making both progress and enemies aplenty.

Hearing pleas and grievances from the visiting public in his office (often in person,) he is becoming a one-man institution of transitional justice -the kind of justice that Afghanistan so badly needed post-Taliban, the kind of justice that Afghanistan did not get, because its new leaders were too willing to cut deals with warlords and criminals left and right.

The least that these cynical leaders -with little moral courage to stand up to corruption on their own- can do now, is to stand behind the man who has the moral fortitude to do it for them: Abdul Jabbar Sabit, Afghanistan’s Elliot Spitzer. (Mr. Spitzer is New York State’s Attorney General and a lightning rod against corporate corruption and white-collar crime.)

The good news is, so far Mr. Sabit has won many supporters: from the general populace who see in him a man with the moral rectitude and the courage to stand up to powerful people, and from a good number of MPs. (This, despite rumors and suggestions about his own shady political/Hezbi associations in the past.) But in a place like Afghanistan, where politics can often be a dirty and amoral affair -where it isn’t?-, he faces a particularly tough battle. The hard work lying ahead of this veritable Mujahid, and the need for people to stand behind him, is epitomized in this quote from Shukria Barakzai, an MP from Kabul:

“He is wonderful, and we all need to support his reforms, or he will be a lonely person facing many difficulties… People are really thirsty for justice, but Dr. Sabit is in such a hurry, and he has opened so many lines of battle, that he is taking many risks.” (Read Top Prosecutor Targets Afghanistan’s Once-Untouchable Bosses.)

While Mr. Sabit’s earlier ventures to Herat and Balkh faced resistance (from officials higher up, who saved the corrupt officials Mr. Sabit was bringing to justice) his recent trip to eastern regions has proved more successful. He has rellied popular support, and counting on the goodwill of the people towards his cause, he recently said that “People will not support corrupt officials… I am convinced that Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat like situation will not be created here.” So far, he has ordered the arrest of 11 allegedly corrupt officials, four of whome have reportedly fled to escape arrest.

With the danger that widespread corruption and impunity throughout all the levels of the current government poses to the future of Afghanistan, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Abdul Jabbar Sabit is fighting the most important of battles (at least as important as the military campaigns against the insurgents) for Afghanistan. He needs all of our support, now.

(Note: For a highly expository interview with Mr. Sabit (in Farsi), follow the link from Warlordish blog here.)