- The best way forward
Eliminating Corruption from all segments of society was recently identified as a major priority objective by Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first address to the nation. “We will enact a law for whistleblowers like we did in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Whoever helps identify corruption will get a share of the money that we recover. The SECP and the FIA will be fixed on a priority basis,” he said. This new optimism and seriousness given to the matter by Khan’s government was welcomed across the board with some of his major critiques applauding his commitment to issues of great urgency.
For indeed nowadays, massive corruption in our country is so evident that it has completely shattered the very fabric of this society. And before I consider some radical proposals in resolving the problem. It is essentially vital to review the phenomenon of corruption in its historical and political context. In Pakistan white-collar crime had its roots in the 1950s, starting from settlement of refugee claims, industrial sanctions and allotment of agricultural lands. By the time of Independence in 1947 increase of corruption by public officials became much noticeable. And sadly, during the last 10 years all elected governments have fallen due to massive political corruption. This increasing role of money in Pakistani politics has brought in a new class of wealthy businessmen turned politicians who have shamelessly strived for saving their business interest over the national economic advantage. Many governments in the past have attempted accountability drive in some form or other but these could not really materialise into potent effort to check the spread of corruption in the society.
Some of the main reasons for this failure were the misuse of investigation agencies by successive governments as well as the incompatible legal judicial system. Public funds have responsible officers whose function includes ensuring that these funds are protected from abuse and misuse. However, when this abuse and misuse of public funds was detected nothing was done to those who were responsible. This was indeed root cause of all loopholes in fight against corruption.
Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his first address to the constituent assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 stated, “One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering — I do not say that other countries are free from it, but I think our condition is much worse — is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put it down with iron hand. Black-marketing is another curse. A citizen who does black-marketing commits a greater crime that the biggest and the most grievous crime. The next thing that strikes to me is jobbery and nepotism. I want to make it clear that I will never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism. If we want to make this great state of Pakistan, happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, especially of the masses and the poor.”
Indeed, this challenge is a one of toughest and cannot be rooted out in one big sweep. Rather it needs to be countered gradually
Sadly, today the whole country is in the anguish of corruption and severely polluted with this malaise. As per the Global Integrity organisation appointments in the police department are most often based on political considerations. These police officers have conflict of interests due to personal loyalties and family connections. Hence, in such troubling times an effective strategy is needed to curtail this culture of graft and greed. In my humble view there are some radical mechanisms which I feel we can employ urgently to rescue Pakistan from the syndrome of corruption.
Firstly, we need to eliminate all those procedures and cumbersome systems that easily pave way for corrupt behaviour and try to change the attitude of our government officials. This much needed shift is essential from individuals to organisations through the process of law, rules and regulations in force. Secondly, to make our anti-corruption strategy effective, it is proposed that a three tier accountability process be put in place. In the first tier, the departments own internal controls should be made more effective and strong, while in the second tier, the anti-corruption agencies should undertake the task of accountability and at the higher levels the NAB should be the last tier to take charge of prospective and collusive corruption in high places. And lastly, ethical values should be maintained and developed to eradicate corruption via service oriented mindset to pave way for a culture that transforms into a strong barrier against corruption.
Indeed, this challenge is a one of toughest and cannot be rooted out in one big sweep. Rather it needs to be countered gradually on all possible fronts with sincerity. At the same time public support in halting this growing menace is equally important. Examples like the whistleblowers act which PM Imran khan mentioned in his agenda would be great step forward in this regard. Let us hope that this marks the start of greater things to come.