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The scourge of corruption

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By Fazaila Shad-Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. —– Machiavelli

This Machiavelli’s dictum has been validated by history and current events. it is remarkable to note that due to the international interference and manipulation, the very same people we label as corrupt, come back to govern us after a couple of years again and people welcome them with open arms. A common English saying goes as “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”.

Corruption has been existed as a widespread global phenomenon for many decades. Recent reports have proclaimed the prevalence of greed and corruption in developed and underdeveloped countries. For instance, in 2007, the president of Brazil Dilma Rousseff was impeached by the country’s senate with alleged charges of illegally manipulating the government budget. Over the years media has reported similar cases of corruption by strong world leaders. The Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razzak’s received $600m from an unknown benefactor in 2016. Both Mubarak and Morsi regimes were ousted on charges of corruption. In Nigeria, the oil revenues of thousands of millions of dollars were disappeared. Even China, the next global power, is not free of corruption as president Xi Jinping launched campaign to tackle corruption.

According to the 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index, Pakistan ranked 117 the least corrupt nation out of 175 countries in the world. It shows the abuse of power, misuse of public funds and large bribes in exchange for procurement contract awards and to obtain employment.  Corruption is more prevalent in Pakistan and has given birth to its existence due to weak and unresponsive institutions that fail to properly deliver accountability, good governance, and an independent judiciary and enforce the rule of law. According to recent surveys of transparency international on causes of corruption, the main causes were identified includes lack of accountability, monopoly power, low salaries and misuse of power by high ranking officials in the government.

The current political system of Pakistan is a mixture of crime, corruption and money. The massive document leak from offshore companies by Panama papers revealed the magnificent involvement of Sharif’s family in offshore holdings. In the aftermath of Panama papers that were leaked to the media, apetition was filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan Nazi and Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad. The Panama gate case officially known as “Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi vs Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif” is a landmark case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The Supreme Court disqualified Mr. Sharif as the prime minister of Pakistan under article 62(1) (f) for a life time. In another case, The National Accountability Bureau raided the residence of Baluchistan, Finance secretary Mushtaq Ahmad Raisani, and recovers Rs730 million from his residence. Another Report exposeda massive corruption of Rs60 million in Pakistan International Airlines and Railways.

The actual duty of the police forceis to maintain law and order and provide security in their areas of responsibility, but unfortunately, this works the other way around in Pakistan, police has been failing to provide protection their citizens. According to a report published by local media, Pakistan today, that since 2002 the Punjab police had been involved in the corruption of Rs2 billion. There is not a single department of the state that is free of corruption. Corruption has also affected the business standards and ethics in Pakistan. Hoarding, stock piling, black marketing is the order of the day. Money collected in tax revenues are misused rather than being spent in the welfare programs of healthcare and education. In such case it not only weakens the system, but also deepens the distrust of the public in their government.

Corruption has been a routine thing in Pakistan, negatively affecting the system and preventing it from delivering checks and balances and hinders the growth of the country. Officials are bribed for paper work proceedings and without bribe, no work can be pursued or done. Corruption is like a cancer, destroys every fabric of a society. The discourse of Foreign Direct Investment in the country and the growing foreign debt is an economic loss resulting in corruption. It also tarnishes the image of Pakistan globally. Obviously, corruptionas the mother of all evils has been turned into a serious threat to Pakistan’s economic and political stability.

The National Action Bureau (NAB) is absolutely committed to eradicate corruption in Pakistan at any cost. Some of the agencies and officials trying their best to reduce the menace of corruption, but it require the joint efforts to reduce corruption.  The corruption can be eradicated by paying civil servants well. If they are paid well, they may not find themselves under pressure to supplement their income in an “unofficial” ways. We can also reduce corruption by creating transparency and openness in government spending. By cutting the red tape and replacing regressive and distorting subsidies with targeted cash transfers.

Faiz Ahmad Faiz said in Urdu “boll k lab as ad Haintree” Speak, as your lips are rebels. We must speak up against corrupt practices and adopt a strategy of zero tolerance towards corruption. The menace of corruption can be abolished by strengthening the institutions and prevalence of code of conduct. There must be the supremacy of law and proper checks and balances. Watchdog agencies and NAB can play a vital role in its prevention and the most powerful weapon to avoid corruption is to educate employees on organizations policies and guidelines. In this long campaign against corruption, we can start this from our families by teaching our children about honesty and trustworthiness.