WHEN Balochistan Finance Secretary Mushtaq Raisani was arrested early last month and hundreds of millions of rupees in cash were confiscated from his residence in Quetta, it was immediately clear that a vast case of corruption had been unearthed. Yet, in the days and weeks since, the scale of that corruption has only steadily grown, stretching to properties and luxury vehicles in Karachi and engulfing a range of public officials and accomplices. Thus far the political leadership of Balochistan has not been directly implicated in Mr Raisani’s corruption. But that too only appears to be a matter of time – it being inconceivable that a bureaucrat could preside over a vast provincial and inter-provincial corruption network without the knowledge and complicity of his political superiors. Taken together with the corruption unearthed by military investigators at the very top of the Frontier Corps leadership in the province, it appears that Balochistan has a corruption problem that is staggeringly wide and unfathomably deep. While that may not be entirely surprising, recent events have made it impossible to ignore the matter any longer.
It remains the case that Balochistan’s primary problem is the low-level insurgency that has wracked the Baloch-dominated areas of the province for over a decade now. Without security – with large swathes of the province effectively cut off from the rest of the country – Balochistan’s governance, social and economic problems cannot be meaningfully addressed. But are corruption and misgovernance getting in the way of solving Balochistan’s security problems? It does not require conspiracy theories to understand the connection between public and military officials intent on enriching themselves and the failure to politically and through law-and-order measures resolve a fundamental security problem. It is not even a question of symptom or cause; the vast corruption in Balochistan could be both a factor contributing to and exacerbated by the insurgency and the wretched state of governance in the province.
While the problems may be identifiable, the solutions are far from clear. Corruption is both a national issue and a provincial one, while Balochistan’s security problems cannot be resolved without bringing the centre, the province and the political and military leaderships together. Yet, doing nothing ought not to be an option. Perhaps a starting point could be to ensure that the investigation of the Raisani corruption nexus is conducted impartially and thoroughly – allowing the investigators to go wherever the evidence takes them rather than let political or security considerations overrule them. Whether that requires the support of the superior judiciary or whoever else can help ensure impartiality and thoroughness, the investigators themselves could make clear. Mr Raisani surely is the keeper of many explosive secrets.
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2016