Pakistanis have finally discovered that corruption is a major problem in the country. It is not relegated just to the traffic cop, the water lineman, or at the assistant patwari level, but the tentacles of corruption reach way, way up. The institution of the democratization process has provided to those who cried and ranted for democracy to enter the political environment of this country, a carte blanche to go hi-ho and use their talents to enrich themselves beyond their wildest dreams.
These protectors of democracy play superbly with the naivete of the populace to reinforce their hold on the reins of power and continue to brainwash them into believing that salvation and prosperity is just round the corner. Huge congregations of people get together at purposeless meetings and shout themselves hoarse by raising “jiye so & so” and “zindabad so & so” slogans. The leaders, intoxicated by the emotions of the crowd, further spruce up their rhetoric and continue their opera of charade.
The people never tire from their faith in their leaders, and thus the leaders, feeling happy and contented, go on to dream up a new scam in which to make more money. During all this time, the politicians in power and, presumably even those who are in the opposition, all in connivance and cahoots with the corrupt elements in officialdom, have no qualms in getting their schemes processed instantly, their influence peddled favorably, and their share of the booty provided justly. There is no fear of tomorrow, there is no fear of the consequences, and there is no fear of accountability.
They have precedence on their side and there is no one strong or brave to tread where even angels do not dare. The official media comes into fore whenever there is a change in the government. An accountability commission is invariably set up and a witch-hunt commences. All this is, of course, an attempt to play to the gallery and pave the way for the “new owners” of the country to milk the Treasury dry. Pakistan, being in the ranks of the “less developed” (I would not like to term my nation as a “developing” one) countries, is not immune from the plague of corruption.
It is an established fact that corruption is just like a lubricating device that makes the wheels of the government run. One should not mince words and be stoic, but it is all but true that the edifice of government is such that people on all levels of the hierarchy have sacrificed their moral sense of duty and truly believe that graft and bribery are the only modes to make a befitting and proper life for them and their kith and kin. We can moralize sitting in our seats that, oh yes, corruption is the root of all evil, and that it is the vehicle that encourages all other vices in society.
We can moralize in our seminars that, oh yes, corruption results in lawlessness, in injustice, and in frustration. We can moralize in our writings that, oh yes, corruption ruins institutions and the political system, or that corruption results in decline, both spiritually and morally. No matter how much we evangelize, pontificate, or sermonize, it is a fact that corruption permeates from the top strata and positions all the way down to the lowest grade employee in the government.
We do not need a certificate from Transparency International to know that our beloved country is number two or number five in the ranks of the most corrupt nations. In Pakistan, the years of non-democratic reigns have given sweeping powers to the bureaucracy. The systematic way in which this cadre has managed to have a stranglehold on every aspect of a citizen’s life has all but destroyed the vital organs of this country. The bureaucracy has usurped powers in such a way that they now can use these acquired powers to be dogmatic, dictatorial, and discretionary.
The semblance of pseudo-democracy has not diluted their strength; in fact, it has been a submissive channel for them to pre-empt all efforts to dilute their hold. The bureaucracy makes the policies, nurtures them, implements them, and when there are winds of change, they find convenient methods to counter the very policies they so forcefully fought for. Alas, this is for them just a macabre game and just another way to use their might to enrich themselves in the ensuing process. The Pakistani citizens have become enmeshed in this net of corruption.
The only aim that the denizens crave for is money, more money, and lots of money. It is to achieve this objective that the citizens themselves succumb to the demands and avarice of the person who has the power to get the work done. The process of corruption is not confined to certain sectors. If the water-man is corrupt, so is the phone lineman. If the electric meter reader is corrupt, so is the sanitary worker. If the traffic policeman is corrupt, so is the vehicle registration clerk.
If the section officer is clerk, one can be sure that the deputy secretary or the director, or the joint secretary or who knows, a Grade 22 officer, has an angle to make more then he earns. Corruption has been patronized, promoted, and protected by those who hold the destiny of this nation in their hands. Corruption has assisted the usurpers to exert their authority in the corridors of power. Corruption has been the attraction for those who crave for the glamour, for the charm, and for the allurement. Everyone talks about the corruption factor, and how it has eaten away the moral fiber of this country.
Accountability commissions are formed at the drop of a hat and scandals revealed galore. How can we stop this menace? People talk about the fear of Allah in the hearts of the corrupt. People talk about the need for an Ayatollah Khomeini or Mustafa Kamal Ataturk. People talk about the introduction of an egalitarian Islamic mode of government. People talk about an Awami Revolution to eradicate the evil vices in the country. However, one may have to wait for the Ayatollah or an Ataturk for eons. Does this country have someone of the status and caliber of these exalted leaders of Persia and Turkey?
Are we to suffice with the Sharifs, Chaudaries, and the Bhuttos alongwith the few families who have directly or indirectly ruled and ruined our motherland? Are we to be the oxen with the yoke of submissiveness to the powers to be forever? The answer is for us to find out. Maybe the answer is in this famous couplet of the bard Qateel Shifai: Duniya Mein Qateel Us Sa Munafiq Koi Nahin Jo Zulm Toh Saheta Hai Baghawat Nahin Karta What then can the Pakistani citizens do or hope for? Well, there are some suggestions that may be considered, debated, and amended.
They may not be the antidotes for the ills that have beset this nation, but they are there to contemplate. For example: • The parliamentarians have to solemnly pledge that they will not use their presence in the legislature to get their own pound of flesh. Even a million rupees should not deter them from this vow. • There is a need for a permanent Accountability Cell under the chairmanship of a non-controversial former Chief Justice. The members of the Commission should be people who have made a mark for honesty and fearlessness.
Personalities like Ardeshir Cowasjee, Sattar Edhi, Saifuddin Zoomkawala of EFU, cricketer Iqbal Qasim, Prof. Pereshaan Khattak, or squash legend Jehangir Khan, etc come to mind. The administration of this independent commission should not be in the hands of the bureaucrats but it should be managed on the pattern of a focused private sector entity. • There should be a continuous process to eliminate all those laws, rules, and regulations which give discretionary or dictatorial powers to the bureaucrats, and which open avenues for massive corruption.
• There should be immediate action on all information into the corrupt practices of the top officials and if they are found guilty, the bureaucrats must be imprisoned, fined, and dismissed from government service. There should be high-profile publicity on their corrupt practices, there should be immunity, and incentives for those who provide information that lead to exposing the corrupt officials. • The judiciary should become more pro-active in corruption cases so that the accountability process cleans up the dirt without much delay or without any legal wrangling.
The guilty should be hounded with an avowed vengeance. • There is a need to transform the bureaucracy from a nest of corruption, inertia, and conspiracy, into a vibrant, clean, considerate group of honest officials who are genuinely the servants of the state. • There is a need to decentralize, deregulate, and go for devolution of authority. This can be achieved to a certain extent thru nourishment of the local bodies. This will ensure the participation of the grassroots and this will be a checking and balancing system that will attain the elimination of corruption at the down level.
• There is now the imperative need to shatter the hold of feudalism in Pakistan. The present political system has been the handmaiden of the rural feudal and they have ensured that this system remains in total servitude to their class forever. The movement to demolish the demon of feudalism should be the topmost item on the nation’s agenda. The people should wake up, unite, and destroy this scourge forever. The Awam should now regain their sovereignty and freedom from these inimical forces that, for fifty long years, have subjugated the teeming millions in the name of democracy and liberty.
Those who perch in the roost known as Islamabad are playing a diabolical game with 160 million people. They are residents, temporary or otherwise, of a city whose name means the City of Islam. Alas, most of them derive a perverted pleasure from defaming their motherland, their city, and their religion, in the pursuit of an easy, immoral, and debauched existence for them and their family. May Almighty Allah show them the right path. Amen. Joh Roshni Mein Kharay Hain Wo Jahnte He Nahin Hawa Chalay Toh Chiragon Ki Zindagi Kya Hai ——————————————————————————– May 10-2008