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A CONUNDRUM BUT CURABLE !

Corruption, a word having diverse meanings, is defined as dishonesty, misconduct, malversation, fraud, and is a vice-ridden and wicked act certainly an immoral and irreligious action, unethical and unlawful move, and so on. However, the basic sense remains the same’ it is a despicable act in every sense.

Though numerous problems are being faced by the humans across the globe, corruption is a major conundrum among them. It has severely adverse effects on a country’s system. In Pakistan, this issue has not only tarnished the country’s credibility and image but has jeopardized its stability too. No department is absolutely free of corruption may it be education or business sector. Corruption is rampant among law-enforcement agencies, courts, sports, taxation department and there may be hardly any place to be called corruption-free in truest sense of the word.

Corruption is at the root of these abounding problems. Take any matter, may it be the energy crisis or faltering economy, worsened law and order or heinous acts of terrorism, declination of education or ever-rising inflation, the main cause behind would be corruption. In other words, corruption is the mother of all ills. Lack of proper and effective mechanism to eradicate corruption has further aggravated this problem. This issue direly and urgently wants a befitting solution.

First, it is the duty of country’s political leadership to formulate laws so as to reinvigorate ‘rather resurrect’ the National Accountability Bureau, along with evolving a comprehensive, practical mechanism that may ebb away corruption. Moreover, it must be ensured that the wrongdoers and the corrupt people face the music for all their wrongdoings and are awarded befitting punishments.

Second, the public officials should perform their duties honestly, and denounce any exhortation which may incite them to resort to corrupt practices. Hence, eradicating corruption means a boost to the economy of the country. So, eliminating corruption is direly needed for the development and sustained stability in Pakistan.

Every year, a number of people join Civil Services of Pakistan while countless personnel are also employed to do the auxiliary jobs in lower ranks. What prompts them to be involved in corruption is a mystery solved and exposed to everyone. The first and foremost motivation behind being involved in corrupt practices is the cupidity of easy-money. The menace of bribery in Pakistan ensues in various malpractices and today, there is hardly any government department where one can get required services, that is his basic constitutional right, without bribing the officials. Even the freshly-appointed people frequently indulge in this unfair practice. Apart from this filthy greed for money, nepotism, cronyism, impatience, and sufferings are also counted in as major inducements to corruption.

At higher echelons of government or where there are positions of power, nepotism is the order of the day. Those who have common ethnicity or clan or biradri may get their work done within no time. Those at the helm of affairs are usually more inclined towards their blood relations. Besides this, many instances are seen where people are involved in corrupt practices just as a show of their power.

Another inducement i.e. impatience, among general public is an everyday observation. People tend to bribe just to get their piece of work done before others. Taking a real-life example, a friend of mine went to Board office to get his Marks Certificate. At the gate, a low cadre employee met him. He said, ‘Deposit the prescribed fee in the bank and give me Rs. 150 to me ‘as bribe’ and you will get your certificate today. Otherwise, officially, you will have to come tomorrow, as per the rules’. This delineates the fact that most people agree to do the former, just to save their time, though the laws and morality principles are violated. This impatience and ‘I always first’ syndrome adds to corruption and even provides the employees with opportunities to carry on with malpractices.

Third motivator roots out of ‘perceived’ suffering. For instance, a traffic constable apprehends a person who had violated the traffic rules, the nabbed person will try to avert the penalty by bribing the policeman. So just to avoid the agony of standing in queues, he explicitly promotes corruption. These low-level practices would ultimately give rise to corruption at the higher levels. If corruption is curbed at the lower levels, it would automatically be rooted out from the higher levels.

Corruption is a curse and it is so rampant in Pakistan that four federal governments were dissolved in the 1990’s on charges of corruption. Consequently, when the world was entering into the 21st century with much fanfare, Pakistan had not much to celebrate. Pakistan was again in the claws of military rule and country’s ratings in various indicators were steeply declining particularly in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI). This is evident from the fact that in 2012, Pakistan was the 34th most corrupt country in the world whereas in 2011 and 2010, it stood at 43rd and 34th position respectively.  TI’s CPI further showed that during PM Gilani’s tenure, the corruption touched the new heights and crossed $94 billion mark. Furthermore, figures of corruption in individual departments are quite perplexing.

A 2010 survey on corruption showed that 69% of the respondents affirmed that at least one member from their respective families had to experience corruption in judicial system. 42% people reported that they were given government hospital utilities only after they bribed the hospital staff. A survey conducted in 2002 suggested that 99% people had to face corruption in taxation department and 96% people reported corruption when they had to utilize the services of WAPDA. In addition, special cases such as Rs. 26 Billion Scam in Pakistan Steel Mills, $500 million loss incurred by PIA, Hajj corruption scandal and last but not least the Rental Power Projects scandal, are much more devastating and horrifying. All these have contributed to destabilizing Pakistan.

A person who has not done corruption is like an angel in the present-day Pakistan where ministers like Abdul Qayyum Jatoi in the Gilani cabinet, publically say that corruption is his right and on who is not corrupt is a fool. Most of the Pakistanis ‘leaders and public alike’ have been involved in such corrupt practices.

The consequential fiascos and debacles are imminent. The criminals go scot free, economy falters, illiteracy surges, inflation rises, and law and order situation becomes aggravated which gives rise to many other conundrums.

A renowned scholar C.S Lewis opines that people are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. This is very true in case of Pakistan as we still have time and chance to chalk out a plan to eradicate corruption. The question arises then, ‘How’? The answer is by learning and analyzing and then working out a plan and enacting laws immediately which ensure elimination of corruption. India’s Right to Information Act (2005) is an example worth following. India introduced this Act to provide citizens with any information they may ask about the use of public money issued by the government for development and other utilities. Though, it wasn’t an absolute solution because the citizens on many occasions were harassed, attacked and even killed when they asked for information. Nevertheless, it is the duty of the government to ensure protection of its citizens simultaneously to strive for so that the ones who violated the act get due punishments.

The corruption control agenda adopted by Singapore needs special mention here. Singapore founded Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in 1952 solely to combat corruption that was rampant there. First, there was a strong political will to fight against corruption. Then, a ‘corruption control’ framework, having four pillars, was introduced.

First; effective anticorruption acts or laws authorized the CPIB to investigate corruption in both public and private sectors. Additionally, it allowed CPIB to punish Singaporeans involved in corruption in other countries rather than their own country. Second; Effective Enforcement Agency enforces the laws on corruption. Its main characteristic is independence of action. It may investigate any person or corporation in government or private sector irrespective of their power or position. CPIB reports directly to Prime Minister to thwart any influence from any quarter. The Bureau’s slogan is ‘Swift and Sure’, and it does maintain the soul of this slogan in its practices. Third; Effective Adjudication Department was to act in order to punish those found guilty of corruption.
Fourth; the Effective Government Administration makes altogether the anticorruption mechanism stronger enough to produce fruitful results.

At this critical juncture in its history, Pakistan needs immediate yet radical steps to get rid of this issue once and for all. This is the only path treading on which will end energy and other multifaceted crises faced by Pakistan in short time while simultaneously improving law and order situation. Eduard Shevardnadze realistically suggested that corruption has its own motivations, and one has to thoroughly study that phenomenon and eliminate the foundations that allow corruption to exist.

If Pakistan adopts Singapore model there is a greater probability that Pakistan will be less corrupt in future. But, if mechanism is not devised and effectively implemented, the words of David Hume are quite enough to predict our doom.

‘The corruption of the best gives rise to the worst.’

By: Naeem Sharif Chandio

 

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