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New Kabul Bank Up For Sale? – OpEd

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Here is a bad and shocking news. This time it were not the Taliban or foreign troops that made headlines in Afghan media outlets rather it were the nation’s thinking class and ruling elite that came into spotlight. It shows that we as a society still pass through a dark and abysmal madness. It has possessed the nation’s thinking class to drive it so opaque blind to the dreadful realities prevalent on the ground.

Afghanistan since long is enmeshed in a multiplicity of dire adversities and grave threats menacingly yet all the times we have sunk our heads into sands like ostriches and preferred the pathway of escapism. Or sometimes we have felt a great sense of jubilation and honor in blaming others especially foreigners for the destruction of this ill-fated nation, however, this is not the solution rather it has bedeviled the situation to an extent of irreparability.

This very bad trend has benefited our ruling elite, whose greed and avarice have gone wildest that now know no satiation. This is why it should be the polity to come under the hammer of criticism. Our polity stands deeply divided scarily on diverse lines irreconcilably. Yet quite oblivious of these daunting ground realities, this ruling class is given so fondly to its own pet pastimes and pursuits hurtfully. And in the process it is turning out to be a major problem and not part of the solution. The ruling elite is always busy in thinking how to grab and plunder wealth of then nation—the wealth which comes in alms, charity and donations. It should have been used on development of the nation, but unfortunately it has been badly used by the plunderers.

Our ruling elite considers national coffers as its own treasury and whenever it want to misuse wealth of the nation, no one is there to restrain its hands. The bad news is that Afghanistan’s largest private sector bank is being up for auction and sale. It is when $ 34.9 million of its loan mark-ups have been written off. It speaks volumes of the financial scams in the ranks of our ruling and thinking class.

The New Kabul Bank, which is the successor of the Kabul Bank, has now to be auctioned. This is the bank, which the government took over after it had come to the verge of liquidation and collapse. The government took it over two years back as a result of issuing unauthorized loans. Within the span of two years, it is yet another jolt and blow, the bank received. The bank’s outstanding loans work out at $937.7 million.

The Central Bank Governor, Noorullah Delawari while addressing a press conference informed media men that bids for the New Kabul Bank’s bidding would be called in August but it would be in line with a Cabinet decision. Khan Afzal Hadwal, Da Afghanistan Bank’s Deputy Chief, has come up with an odd notion. He said that waiving off interest on loans has been a common practice in other countries of the world, which is why he linked the waiver to the borrowers’ inability to pay the mark-ups.

Therefore, nearly $410 million credit remained unaccounted for.

The matter is so stark that a high level meeting, chaired by the President Hamid Karzai, decided earlier this month to refer the Kabul Bank loan case to court. The blunder that caused a serious blow to the bank is that nearly $850 million were taken from the bank in off-book loans in December. Off-book here means that were not recorded in the official financial records. Who authorized the bank officials to give such a huge amount in off-book? It comes under criminal negligence or blunder.

Moreover see the borrowers. Since they are not men in the streets rather they are too influential because they belong to ruling class of the society that’s why it is not easy to belch out the devoured amount. Among the big-time borrowers are Mehmood Karzai, the brother of Hamid Karzai, Sher Khan Farnood, Mohammad Hussain Fahim, the brother of the First Vice President, Ghulam Daud Nasib, Tahir Zahir, Shukrullah Shakran, Sufi Nisar, Haji Khalil, the owner of Istiqlal Township, and Kabul Bank Director Khalilullah Ferozi. Now that the borrowers are from ruling elite, then where does stand the claim of Khan Afzal Hadwal? For, he has linked the waiver to the borrowers’ inability to pay the mark-ups.

The entire affair, from the beginning to the end, shows failure of our ruling elite to run the state-affairs smoothly and in a poor-friendly manner. Corruption is so widespread that even the President of Afghanistan himself has confessed it as a major challenge before the government to baffle with. Instead of pondering over ways and means how to take the nation out of the whirl of challenges, our elite’s appetite for power and money has gone wild. Their tomfooleries have reached the bank to this extent and if a tight rein is not kept on the unbridled avarice of the ruling elite the day is not so far that the entire country would be up for sale.



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Rooh-ul-Amin

Rooh-ul-Amin is a Kabul-based journalist and works at daily ‘Afghanistan Times’, being published from Kabul for past six years. Rooh-ul-Amin blogs on www.afghanpost.wordpress.com and can be reached at: [email protected]

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