News - Afghanistan
A number of lawmakers on Saturday called for the names of any officials found to have illegally confiscated land to be publically named.
The MPs said that the Presidential Palace knows the confiscators very well and these names should be disclosed by them before it is disclosed by any than any other source.
"It's good if top government officials and those who are in the leadership review their deeds. I believe that they know who the land grabbers are.
There are land grabbers among the Presidential Palace to us MPs. This is what people already know very well," Farah MP Samiullah Samim said Saturday.
"Those who have a political presence, especially those in the government, are able to confiscate lands as they have the power to do so but the ordinary people can't," said Kunduz MP Fatima Aziz.
It is estimated that around four million acres of government land has been misappropriated by officials for personal use, not only in remote areas but even in cities and the Afghan capital Kabul.
The Ministry of Agriculture has started a special office to take back this land.
"Throughout the decades of war, and specially over the past ten years, more than 4 million acres of land in the country has been confiscated and Ministry of Agriculture is extremely concerned for the matter.
We have begun taking action to reclaim these lands, founding the Office of Lands of Afghanistan and have started identifying the land grabbers," spokesman of Ministry of Agriculture Majidullah Qarar said.
Officials have been acutely aware of the problem for years, with Second Vice President Mohammed Karim Khalili resembling land grabbing as a cancerous tumor a few years ago.
More recently Khalili questioned the failure to act on land grabbing.
"Why is there land grabbing every day and we haven't been able to do anything towards it? Those who are behind this issue should be made known. If it's the government, it should be reformed. If it's the related offices, they should be made known.
Or is the Mafia so powerful now that is capable of doing its work unhindered?" Khalili said.