News / Asia

Kabul Traffic Cop Pays Price for Playing it Straight

Kabul Traffic Cop Pays Price for Playing it Straighti
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
Jeffrey Young
March 07, 2014 7:08 PM
A traffic policeman in Kabul has been described by The Washington Post as the most honest man in Afghanistan for steadfastly resisting corruption. And being “straight” has a price. Yet, he perseveres, as VOA’s Jeffrey Young reports.
A traffic policeman in Kabul has been described by The Washington Post newspaper as the most honest man in Afghanistan for steadfastly resisting corruption.  And being “straight” has a price - he has been locked into the same position in a dusty, exhaust filled traffic circle for more than two decades.  Yet, he perseveres.

It’s another day…in another week…in another year at the Sherpur traffic circle in Kabul for Abdul Saboor Khan.

Thousands of cars and trucks whiz by every day, directed by Khan’s whistle…and his ever-moving arms.

“When they hear my whistle, they say ‘Saboor Khan’ is here on duty.  When I am on the road, many people are happy and say 'thank God you are here.' People love the way I organize my tasks. They pay attention when I move my hands and feet," said Abdul Saboor Khan.

When someone disobeys his instructions and gets stopped, one thing does not work.  In a society where “give something - get something in return” is often the norm, Khan has made himself a notable exception.  He refuses to be bribed out of taking action.

“I don’t do any corruption. I work hard and work a lot. Thanks to my hard work, I earn a good salary and God helps me survive on that money.  And there are many people who appreciate me," he said.

Khan has paid a steep price for refusing to be corrupt.  After 24 years on the job, he has only been given one promotion, which he says he didn't receive.

“I am known as one of the most honest traffic cops in Afghanistan, in Kabul. But the promotion they signed for me, they refuse to give me," he said.

Khan’s salary is the equivalent of US $200 a month. And since he doesn’t take bribes to supplement his pay, he lives in a five-room house shared with 28 other people.

While his wallet is thin, his career has been thick with accolades.  Khan’s honesty has been commended by everyone from officials of the now-ousted Afghan Taliban regime to international organizations including the United Nations, which made a mini-documentary about him.

The price of Khan’s honesty is noted by Nathanial Heller, of the watchdog group Global Integrity.

“It’s a massive personal sacrifice. That’s the first thing to sort of embrace, is that he, or someone like him, is doing this at huge risk, and at huge cost professionally, and sometimes this turns into personal and family blow-back [reprisal]. Your cousin gets fired for no reason.  There is physical safety involved.” ((then)) It’s just a tough slog, and it’s a credit to people like them [Khan] to at least demonstrate what the other example [honesty] looks like," said Heller.

Khan says he has even had his toes crushed by cars driving over his feet. Yet he’s out there the next day, and the day after that.  In a dusty place where your lungs get filled with choking car exhaust.  But to Khan, it’s a matter of principle.  And that’s the clean air he breathes.

Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid