Abdul Hady Arghandiwal, the former minister of economy, has been accused of corruption related to his role as a member of the Special Procurement Commission presiding over the now infamous Ministry of Defense (MoD) fuel contracting process. On Tuesday, while he did not deny that corruption existed within the commission, Arghandiwal distanced himself from any wrongdoing by calling on legal authorities to punish all those involved in bribery.
The Committee Reviewing MoD contracts has accused officials from the MoD, Administration for Construction and Development of Afghanistan and Special Procurement Commission of helping embezzle roughly $100 million USD.
"When the Committee Reviewing MoD Contracts claims that up to $5 million USD has been paid as a bribe, they must also specify who the money has been given to," former minister Arghandiwal said on Tuesday.
Further distancing himself from the crime, Arghandiwal has suggested former minister of economy and current Presidential Economic Adviser, Omer Zakhaiwal, bears responsibility for the scandal.
"Without a doubt, anyone who takes leadership of an institution is also more responsible than any other members, especially in the Office of Managing Contracts, which was formed within the framework of the Ministry of Finance," Arghandiwal said. "This office usually prepares the contracts and reviews the contract from a technical point of view, and this office was directly under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance."
The former minister of economy is not alone in trying to appear free of guilt and eager for the corruption to be rooted out. The Deputy Minister for Administrative Affairs at the Ministry of Justice, Said Muhammad Hashemi, who reportedly signed the fuel contract in question instead of the Minister of Finance, in departure from standard operating procedure, also called for the prosecution of those who had accepted bribes.
"I am also accused here, the Minister of Economy is too and so is the Minister of Finance," Deputy Minister Hashemi said. "Even if one Afghani was paid as a bribe, the names must be revealed."
The Committee Reviewing MoD contracts have said that those who have signed the contract have been accused, and, in addition to being relieved of their positions, they should also be legally prosecuted and their properties seized. Nevertheless, no punitive action has been taken and those still in positions of authority remain in them.
Khost MP Mirbat Khan Mangal says the government is unlikely to take legal action against those found responsible in the fuel contract case.
"In many places that I have been to, people have said that senior government officials were involved in corruption related to MoD fuel contracts," he said Tuesday. "If we can punish them, then the conditions will return to the times of Daud Khan and Dr. Najeeb's government. But since we cannot punish those in power, we don't arrest the weak individuals either," he added.
Some have raised explicit doubts about the likelihood of President Ashraf Ghani holding his advisor, Zakhailwal, accountable. Zakhailwal was a major donor and fundraiser for Ghani's campaign in the 2014 election.
Last week, the killing of almost 30 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers in Badakhshan province came about because the troops did not have enough fuel in their vehicles to escape an ambush. The Ministry of Defense (MoD), which previously remained largely quiet on the issue of corruption in the wake of the fuel contract controversy, has since ramped up rhetoric calling for those involved to be punished.
"Justice must be served, regardless of who ever it is, the Ministry of Defense is waiting for the results of punishment," Deputy Chief of Army Staff Murad Ali Murad said.