Favoritism — A heinous phenomenon in Afghanistan

KABUL (Khaama Press): Favoritism is a critical factor adversely affecting the administrative system of Afghanistan for decades. It has dried up the roots of meritocracy and a talent-based approach while recruiting employees at different levels in government institutions. Unfortunately, it has become quite common among people serving in the public sector, where there is no concrete strategy to fight this malicious issue. From the very top-ranking to mid and low-level, employees are hired based on their linguistic, ethnicity, religion, or sex in public institutions.
Although the government claims to be pursuing a transparent and biased-free approach, nothing tangible is seen in practice. Ministers, ambassadors, governors, and commissioners are selected based on a political agreement between the two ruling parties. It is crystal clear that incompetent talents would never generate the expected result; instead, it further complicates the whole process and brings about less productivity to the entire system.
Perhaps favoritism in government institutions, NGOs, and even the private sector is one of the main reasons for the massive corruption the country is plagued with. As a result, unqualified and less competent individuals are hired in key positions with no relevant experience or skills in a particular field. Worst of all, favoring individuals creates blatant discrimination among people, paving the way for more significant problems in any government or business organization, including corruption, fraud, theft, and more. In Afghanistan, certain groups, Hazaras, have faced severe discrimination simply because they belong to a specific ethnic group or religion. Hazaras have been wrestling with massive challenges on the different front, including economic, socio-cultural, and security for their survival across the country.
The most obvious example of favoritism can be seen in the ministries and other local institutions in Afghanistan. Many employees in key positions at the bureaus have some link or recognition with the top-ranking officials. In other words, people belonging to a particular group or political faction would be preferred over someone else who is even overqualified for the job. In such a corrupt system, qualification, expertise, and know-how-to have been replaced with personal relationships, networks, and discrimination, severely affecting the public sector.
Over the past years, favoritism has already had severe ramifications in Afghanistan across different fields. The young generation, making the country’s future, barely got a fair and equal chance to improve personally or professionally in the job market or education sector. Some turned to skilled or labor-based jobs, and many young talents even left the country searching for a better life in Europe and elsewhere. In the meantime, favoring one particular group over others creates hostility and hatred, complicating the situation for people to compromise on critical national matters.
The international community and NGOs have donated millions of dollars for development projects in Afghanistan over the past two decades. However, tangible results are not impressive at all. The primary reason is attached to the corrupt system and poor leadership in the government. Those who dominate power take contracts and provide less transparent results to the donors or relevant government institutions. In such scenarios, lower-level individuals remain silent and possibly avoid whistleblowing, fearing for their job security, among other issues. In other words, to strengthen their influence in an institution, a specific group recruits those individuals who possess common interests than those who might cause them headaches in one way or the other.