– Global Competitive Report on Pakistan signposts corruption as the most problematic factor for doing business in Pakistan followed by inefficient government bureaucracy and policy variability and erraticism. While addressing Constituent Assembly on 11th August the Father of the nation had positioned down the fundamental approach for good governance for his government by proclaiming jobbery, enticement, bribery and graft as a poison for the governmental system and showed resolve for putting it down with iron hand.
His vision and accountability strategy transformed into the first piece of legislation against corruption titled ‘Corruption Prevention Act 1948’.The act included all categories of public office holders without any discrimination. Any one paid out of State exchequer was kept within the ambit of accountability. The nation betrayed its Quaid in fighting the corruption and today the international watchdogs grade us as a failed state in anti-corruption, indexing 2.4 to 2.9 out of a total ten markson a grading scale.
We annulled Quaid’s Prevention of Corruption Act and annulled the political will to fight the corruption. Rest is history, whereby all the efforts of accountability in later years remained focused on political victimisation and giving strength and extending the tenure in apex offices and gaining political mileage. We even created history and promulgated corruption law with all its manifestations in the form of NRO; thanks to Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) which rescued the situation partially through its abrogation, even though its beneficiaries are still enjoying the benefits of their loot and plunder.
What Quaid termed as poison in 1947 and set the foremost objective in good governance for its removal; today stands spread in length and breadth of Pakistan. Susceptibility level of corruption has accentuated to an alarming level as a routine practice in government offices. We need to recover from this attitude, otherwise Dr Stephen P Cohen very correctly predicts that collapse of economy will result into Pakistan losing its respected position amongst the comity of nations. The Corruption like termite undermines all economic reforms and initiatives results into worse governance thus making country trust deficit for foreign as well as inland investments. We need to change the definition of corruption as a heinous crime against society and be punished with that sensitivity and severity else the lip service will not change the persistent trend in this area of grave disquiet and stigma.
Our National Action Plan (NAP) after reduction of militancy must focus on anti-corruption and accountability of corrupts specially falling in the category of ‘greedy corrupt’ who are siphoning and amassing the estate assets in foreign countries in form of ‘banami’ and stashing money in foreign accounts, this favour this Nation desperately needs and desires. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has the legitimate and legal provisions available under Section 21 of National Accountability Ordinance. If given the requisite support through political will and monetary resources can effectively perform this consecrated mission par to its performance as demonstrated between 1999 to 2003.
The National Action Plan Phase two as suggested will bring economical viability through creation of confidence of investors and businessman and then progress will be a matter of time as the Pakistan has tremendous demographic strengthaveraging 22 with seventh largest technical pool of skilled manpower and youth 17 to 35 more than ten crore. Archimedes while describing strength of a lever said‘ give me a lever and place to stand I will turn over the Earth’. Give space to Pakistan in good governance through meritocracy, transparency and accountability; rest all will happen at God’s speed. Believe it; Botswana, Singapore and Hong Kong are living examples recovering from the dirt pools to the cleanest nations only with one plus of having Political Will to fight graft.
The punishment for committing offence of embezzlement and corruption involving one million Yuans and above is death penalty in China. Any one committing heinous crime of adulteration or scam hurting public at large straight goes before the death squad. Corruption is regarded as crime against the society at large is hence dealt accordingly. The statistics indicate that more than 30 officials charged with corruption charges committed suicide in last six months or so and out of 120 identified money laundering fugitives absconded abroad; eighty have been brought back to China and are facing trials. People involved in milk adulteration case, out of seventeen few were awarded death sentence along with another number with life imprisonment on charges of crime against humanity. Corruption is graded as a biggest security risk. Country having corruption rampant within need not to have enemy from without. Its economic collapse will result into weakening all state institutions and thus crumbling whole edifice of state structure.
For economic revival on emergent basis and to bring good governance based on fair play and meritocracy appropriate amendments in anti-graft law to inflict capital punishment drawing analogy and parallelism from our two immediate neighbours need to be considered akin to fighting the militancy. Accused involved in mega corruption and scams specially cheating public at large should be awarded capital punishment. Had ‘Double Shah’ hanged to death, there would have been no ‘Muftians of Pindi` towing the similar lines and depriving public from their hard earned money. The one standing on the fence gets encouraged by the accountability mechanism in placed and hence conveniently jumps into the arena of quick bucks making.
Let’s bring the vision of Quaid back into its true perspective and put corruption and corrupt practices to at least an acceptable threshold; else we will continue on tangent to our destination of a welfare state and instead would stay on a path of exploitation and manipulation by the unending corruption unleashed by greedy corrupt who are very few in number but immensely dominate the power corridors of the country.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.