Jus­tice served

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION -

FAKEHA FAIZ

A for­mer Min­is­ter for Re­li­gious and Haj Af­fairs, Hamid Saeed Kazmi, along­with two top bu­reau­crats, was sen­tenced to 16 years im­pris­on­ment by a Special Judge in the mega Hajj Cor­rup­tion case of 2010. This is a wel­come de­vel­op­ment in a coun­try where cor­rup­tion has be­come pan­demic, and even the mat­ters per­tain­ing to re­li­gious acts and like Umra and Haj, are not spared. The case has ex­posed the ugly re­al­ity of mis­use of pub­lic of­fice by some pub­lic of­fi­cials for their pri­vate gains.

The wor­thy Judge de­serves ap­pre­ci­a­tion for award­ing pun­ish­ment to those who mis­ap­pro­pri­ated pub­lic funds and robbed the pil­grims of their hard earned money - all un­der the cloak of re­li­gious piety. Ear­lier, Mush­taq Raeesani of Balochis­tan govern­ment had also shamed the pub­lic of­fice he held by stash­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of ru­pees of pub­lic wel­fare in his house.

Shady deals and fi­nan­cial mal­prac­tices like th­ese, shat­ter the trust of pub­lic in state in­sti­tu­tions. It is an alarm­ing fact that cor­rup­tion, from the high­est to the low­est level, has be­come a ma­lig­nant tu­mour for our sys­tem - suck­ing funds of pub­lic wel­fare and blight­ing the per­for­mance and growth of pub­lic de­part­ments.

Sen­tenc­ing the Ex Re­li­gious Fed­eral Min­is­ter has set the right prece­dent for those in­volved in loot and plun­der of na­tional ex­che­quer and mis­use of the pub­lic of­fice. It also re­flects that Pak­istan has fi­nally be­gan to tread on the right path of ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency. Pak­istan needs to in­tro­duce ef­fi­cient check and bal­ance mech­a­nisms to curb cor­rupt prac­tices and pun­ish those who are in­volved in any fraud­u­lent deals.

Al­though Pak­istan’s rank­ing has lit­tle bit im­proved in Cor­rup­tion Per­cep­tion In­dex (CPI) in the re­cent years, but it should not in­duce com­pla­cency in the anti-cor­rup­tion de­part­ments. In­stead, the im­proved rat­ing should act as an im­pe­tus for change in a sys­tem in­fested by cor­rup­tion. Cor­rupt of­fi­cials, whether in the lower or higher ech­e­lons, need to be awarded pun­ish­ments like in the Hajj Cor­rup­tion case. I urge the govern­ment to in­tro­duce more trans­parency in pub­lic deal­ings and mat­ters of pub­lic im­por­tance by in­tro­duc­ing nec­es­sary checks and bal­ances. —Via email

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