In Cor­rup­tion we Trust

Cor­rup­tion has al­most be­come a way of life in Pak­istan. It en­com­passes the ide­o­log­i­cal, moral and eth­i­cal val­ues of so­ci­ety and is a part of the cul­ture.

Southasia - - COVER STORY -

If the peo­ple were asked to name five ma­jor prob­lems fac­ing Pak­istan, the an­swer in nine out of ten cases would in­clude cor­rup­tion. Any sur­prises? No. Switch on the tele­vi­sion set, browse the In­ter­net or go through the news­pa­pers and you will find the sto­ries of cor­rup­tion in high places, abuse of power, graft and nepo­tism hit­ting the head­lines. Al­le­ga­tions of horse-trad­ing were so rife in the run-up to the re­cent se­nate elec­tions that the rul­ing party even con­sid­ered hav­ing the con­sti­tu­tion amended to do away with the re­quire­ment of a se­cret bal­lot.

It is cus­tom­ary for in­ter­na­tional good gov­er­nance watch­dogs to rank Pak­istan high on the cor­rup­tion in­dex. The Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional has ranked Pak­istan 126th among 175 coun­tries on the 2014 Cor­rup­tion

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By Hus­sain H Zaidi Per­cep­tions In­dex, which in­ci­den­tally is the na­tion's best rank­ing over the last two decades. The Rule of Law In­dex 2014 puts the coun­try at 91 out of 97 states in terms of cor­rup­tion.

Is ram­pant cor­rup­tion in so­ci­ety merely a per­cep­tion with­out much cor­re­spon­dence to re­al­ity? Has the is­sue of cor­rup­tion been blown out of pro­por­tion? Are the sto­ries of mas­sive cor­rup­tion no more than an old wives’ tale? Are the ac­counts of loot and plun­der, of mis­use and abuse of power, largely a con­ve­nient stick to beat the gov­ern­ment with?

The an­swer is in the neg­a­tive. While one may dis­pute the ac­tual level of cor­rup­tion preva­lent in the coun­try, as well as con­cede that at times the tales of cor­rup­tion are po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated, it is hard to deny the enor­mity of the prob­lem that af­flicts the na­tion from the top to the bot­tom.

Cor­rup­tion is a com­plex is­sue hav­ing so­cio-cul­tural, eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and in­sti­tu­tional di­men­sions. Let’s try to get to the bot­tom of the prob­lem.

The play­wright Ge­orge Bernard Shaw once re­marked in a lighter vein that be­fore teach­ing our chil­dren that hon­esty is the best pol­icy, we must see whether hon­est be­hav­ior ac­tu­ally pays. Prob­a­bly what he meant was that if the so­cial struc­ture was sup­port­ive of cor­rup­tion, the prob­lem would be dif­fi­cult to weed out. Un­for­tu­nately, our so­cial struc­ture sup­ports cor­rup­tion, which seems to be in­grained in the na­tional psy­che.

While the text­books and folk­lore may en­throne spir­i­tu­al­ism, look down upon the ap­petite for things worldly and de­sires car­nal and teach contempt

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