Cor­rup­tion-free so­ci­ety?

The Pak Banker - - 4editorial - Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

The ma­jor prob­lem in the po­lit­i­cal do­main is that the peo­ple in power no longer make a dis­tinc­tion be­tween their of­fi­cial/pub­lic and pri­vate/per­sonal do­mains. They have a ten­dency to use of­fi­cial re­sources and fa­cil­i­ties for their per­sonal and pri­vate af­fairs

Ev­ery­body com­plains about cor­rup­tion and wants to elim­i­nate it. They key ques­tion is, why can cor­rup­tion not be elim­i­nated if ev­ery­body favours it? The an­swer is sim­ple. Ev­ery in­di­vid­ual wants oth­ers to be fully hon­est but does not want to change their own habits. The em­pha­sis is on de­liv­er­ing ser­mons to oth­ers or de­mand­ing strict ac­tion against oth­ers rather than dis­pas­sion­ately ex­am­in­ing the causes of cor­rup­tion and start­ing with self-rec­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The de­mand for elim­i­na­tion of cor­rup­tion has be­come a po­lit­i­cal and so­cial weapon, which the com­pet­ing in­ter­ests use against each other. The Pak­istan Mus­lim League-Nawaz (PML-N), es­pe­cially the Sharif broth­ers, have de­clared a cru­sade against cor­rup­tion but its sole tar­get is the Pak­istan Peo­ple's Party (PPP)-led fed­eral govern­ment, es­pe­cially Pres­i­dent Asif Ali Zar­dari, who are de­scribed as the main source of cor­rup­tion.

The PPP has ini­ti­ated a sim­i­lar cam­paign against the PML-N led coali­tion govern­ment in Pun­jab - the PPP is part of this govern­ment - be­cause it is said to be en­gaged in cor­rup­tion and mis­use of state re­sources. There were charges of cor­rup­tion and par­ti­san use of state power and re­sources against both the PPP and the PML-N gov­ern­ments dur­ing 1988-1999. The ac­count­abil­ity process ini­ti­ated by the sec­ond Nawaz Sharif govern­ment and the Mushar­raf govern­ment was po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. Cor­rup­tion is deep rooted in Pak­istan's state sys­tem and so­ci­ety. Its sources are po­lit­i­cal, bureau­cratic and so­ci­etal. All gov­ern­ments use state pa­tron­age and re­sources to at­tain their po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions. What mat­ters most is the ex­tent and method of its em­ploy­ment. Coali­tion gov­ern­ments rely heav­ily on dis­tribut­ing cabi­net po­si­tions, jobs with perks, and other re­wards for keep­ing the coali­tion part­ner in good hu­mour. Pak­istan's cur­rent fed­eral cabi­net has too many min­is­ters, min­is­ters of state and ad­vi­sors. There are oth­ers who en­joy the sta­tus of fed­eral min­is­ter or min­is­ter of state. The same can be said about the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments where some mem­bers of the cabi­net do not have any spe­cific depart­ment to head. This is done to sat­isfy dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal groups and in­ter­ests.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Is­lamFazl (JUI-F) got the chair­man­ship of the Coun­cil Of Is­lamic Ide­ol­ogy (CII) in ad­di­tion to some cabi­net po­si­tion, in­clud­ing the po­si­tion of the fed­eral min­is­ter for tourism that has been given to the brother of the leader of the JUI who him­self is the chair­man of the par­lia­men­tary Kash­mir Com­mit­tee, whose role in pro­mot­ing the cause of Kash­mir is du­bi­ous. The Mut­tahida Qaumi Move­ment (MQM) ex­tracts div­i­dends with ref­er­ence to its po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests in ur­ban Sindh.

Jobs and ma­te­rial re­wards are of­fered to loy­al­ists and syco­phants in or­der to sus­tain sup­port. The prin­ci­ple of merit and pro­fes­sion­al­ism is of­ten ne­glected while re­ward­ing po­lit­i­cal work­ers. As a mat­ter of fact most se­nior work­ers ex­pect some ma­te­rial gains af­ter the party as­sumes power. Sim­i­larly, par­lia­men­tar­i­ans build pres­sure on the govern­ment for jobs and ma­te­rial re­wards for the peo­ple of their con­stituen­cies. They also ex­pect the govern­ment to ap­point lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tors in con­sul­ta­tion with them so that they con­tinue to use the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion to their po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage. The ma­jor prob­lem in the po­lit­i­cal do­main is that the peo­ple in power no longer make a dis­tinc­tion be­tween their of­fi­cial/ pub­lic and pri­vate/per­sonal do­mains. They have a ten­dency to use of­fi­cial re­sources and fa­cil­i­ties for their per­sonal and pri­vate af­fairs. For ex­am­ple, the use of of­fi­cial trans­port for per­sonal and fam­ily use is a com­mon prac­tice. Per­sonal and fam­ily vis­its to other cities are shown as of­fi­cial vis­its to cover the ex­penses. If a po­lit­i­cal leader is ac­cused of cor­rup­tion he would de­scribe it as a po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated move and use his po­lit­i­cal links to neu­tralise the charges.

The bureau­cratic sources of cor­rup­tion are com­plex of­fi­cial pro­ce­dures that are be­yond the com­pre­hen­sion of or­di­nary peo­ple, ex­ceed­ingly slow pro­ce­dures and non-ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the rel­e­vant of­fi­cials. It is of­ten dif­fi­cult for or­di­nary peo­ple to get their due right in rou­tine. Rather, one needs a con­tact, bless­ings of some in­flu­en­tial peo­ple, or has to pay money for get­ting a rou­tine job done.

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