HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN — The United Nations has awarded its prestigious Public Service Award to the Taliban Shadow Government of Helmand Province to commemorate their widespread, successful efforts to root out corruption since re-assuming control of the province in 2015.
"Although the United Nations is a cabal of apostates and dogs," a Taliban spokesman said in a statement. "Even infidels may sometimes applaud our application of the principles of Shariah as uncompromising and heroic."
He added that the decapitated heads of former corrupt government officials have been placed on display on pikes around the province to "maintain our momentum in this effort to ensure good governance for all the Afghan people."
Recent surveys conducted by the Asia Foundation discovered that Helmand is the least corrupt province in Afghanistan by far. Only 2% of Afghans living in Helmand reported paying a bribe in the last year, compared to more than 60% of Afghans across the country. The Taliban have achieved this through what the UN press release termed its "uncompromising application of traditional justice principles, which are suited to local cultural conditions."
The US government's Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction recently identified Helmand as a "rare success story" in Afghanistan, although US and Afghan government forces abandoned the province three years ago.
Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said this represents a great step forward for the people of Helmand.
"Just 10 years ago, this province was a humanitarian disaster area," he told assembled reporters haling from as far away as Iran, Pakistan and Norway at a press conference. "Girls studying in schools were being massacred. Local tribal leaders were shamelessly stealing international aid as it flowed in. Now there are no girls schools and no one is really sending any aid to steal. Depending on how you read those numbers, its really an overall net plus."
The UN Public Service Award is an annual award that showcases the institutional contribution made by public servants to enhance the role, professionalism, image and visibility of the public service. As part of the award, the Taliban will receive a cash award of $300,000 to support local development projects. A spokesman said they will use the money to build a new stadium to hold executions in, and if there is any money left over, to buy goats.