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World's most corrupt nations? Afghanistan at No. 2

In Transparency International's latest rankings, Afghanistan is the second most corrupt country, only beat by Somalia. Afghanistan's anticorruption czar says not carrying through with punishment for corrupt officials is the problem.

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Mr. Osmani's office has received training from countries that scored well on the Transparency International list: Singapore (ranked 3 out of 180), United Kingdom (17), and United States (18). They have also received help from Indonesia, which clocked in with the bottom of the pack at 111.

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The global nongovernmental organization says it bases its rankings on 13 different expert and business surveys measuring perceptions of public sector fraud.

In Afghanistan, corruption isn't an abstract perception but something that nearly everyone – from the richest businessmen to the poorest fruit vendors – have experienced personally.

For example:

 
Farhad Ghafoor, vice president of business development for the telecommuincations firm Rana, says a university chancellor once threatened to OK his contract bid only if the cost estimate was raised and the surplus passed under the table.
 
Noor Agha, a fruit vendor in Kabul, says the police regularly shake him down for bribes so that he can operate his streetside stall.
Mir Mohammad, an elderly man living on the poor hillsides of the city, says his son must work odd jobs to pay for private classes since the government universities ˆ supposedly free ˆ ask for huge (illegal) "admission fees."
Haji Mir Rahman, head of Kabul's fruit depot, says police corruption is rampant on the roads. Truckers who drive through the Khyber Pass to Kabul, including Farouq Amjed and Alam Gir, say the number of Afghan police checkpoints asking for money has gone up since the summer. Mr. Amjed says the bribes range from 100 to 1,000 Afghanis ($2 to $20) and that there can be as many as 20 checkpoints on that road.

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See also: Taliban bomb Peshawar in response to Pakistan offensive. Is this the last gasp of encircled Taliban militants – or a continuing counterattack?

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