News / Asia

Kabul Traffic Cop Pays Price For Playing It Straight

Kabul traffic cop Abdul Saboor Khan
Kabul traffic cop Abdul Saboor Khan
It’s another day…in another week…and, another year at the Sherpur traffic circle for Kabul, Afghanistan traffic cop Abdul Saboor Khan.
 
Thousands of cars and trucks whiz by every day, directed by Khan’s whistle and his ever-moving arms. He has made quite a theatrical performance out of his job, one that has gained him notoriety – for several reasons.
 
“When they hear my whistle, they say ‘Saboor Khan’ is here on duty,” he says.  “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,” Saboor Khan told VOA.
 
When someone disobeys his instructions and gets stopped, one thing doesn’t 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 against the driver making the infraction.
 
“I don’t do any corruption,” he says. “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 says.
 
Khan has paid a steep price for refusing to be corrupt. After 24 years on the job, Khan has only been given one promotion he says which was then withheld.
 
“I am known as one of the most honest traffic cops in Afghanistan, in Kabul,” Khan said. “But the promotion they signed for me, they refuse to give me.”
 
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.
 
Financial watchdog group Global Integrity’s Executive Director, Nathaniel Heller, describes the life Khan has because of his refusal to be corrupt.
 
“It’s a massive personal sacrifice,” he says. “That’s the first thing to sort of embrace –  that he, or someone like him, is doing this at huge risk, and at huge cost, both professionally, and sometimes this turns into personal and family blow-back.  Your cousin gets fired, suddenly, for no reason. Sometimes, there is physical safety involved.”

Heller added “Folks who are taking the high road do so at extreme risk and at extreme cost. 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.”

Despite all that has gone against him - Khan says that he has even had his toes crushed by cars driving over his feet - he’s out there the next day, and the day after that, in a dusty place where one’s lungs get filled with choking car exhaust. But to Khan, it’s a matter of principles.  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

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Myra Chambers from: USA
March 21, 2014 12:02 PM
This is a glosa man. This is integrity.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid