- Transparency International versus PTI
There are around half a dozen speeches by PM Imran Khan supporting Transparency International’s successive reports and maintaining that these were enough to substantiate his allegations of corruption against the PML(N) government. The TI Report 2019, ranking Pakistan 120th out of 180 countries on its corruption index, three spots down from 2018, shows that with the PTI in power, corruption is on the increase. This should have led the party’s bigwigs to hang their heads in shame. It appears however that the party brazenly employs one set of standards for itself, and another for its opponents. PM’s Special Assistant Firdous Ashiq Awan has rejected the findings of the “managed” and “biased” report while PM’s Special Assistant Shahzad Akbar maintained that the report was based on mere perceptions rather than sold evidence.
The report singles out two major factors that can ratchet up corruption levels. The role of big money in financing political parties is one, conflict of interest is another. Both factors have been widely noted in the case of the PTI.
The way the PTI employed ruses to dodge enquiries in the foreign funding case for years indicated that the party did not want to reveal the names of its foreign funders. The media had pointed out the extraordinarily lavish spending incurred by PTI candidates in some of the constituencies won by the party. Businessmen have been named, both inside and outside the country, who have financed the party heavily. Naturally they expect benefits when the party is in power. Conflict of interest has been rampant within the party for years and is even more so now that it is in power. There is a need to heed to Transparency International’s suggestion that governments urgently address the corrupting role of big money over political system as it gains undue influence by financing political parties.
Finally, PTI MPs will recommend their henchmen as Ehsas programme beneficiaries, rejecting Dr Sania Nishter’s reliance on NADRA’s database to determine the deserving. If setting aside merit in favour of cronyism is not corruption, what else is?