Pandemonium over accountability
Abdul Rahman Malik
Accountability in Pakistan has always remained an Uphill task given the weak structure of the State institutions. The Corrupt practices are rampant and flow like blood vessels in the society. When it comes for accountability, it creates mayhem in the power circles i.e the Political, bureaucratic systems that pose strong resistance to the accountability Process.
Since we have a very strong feudalistic political system that has remained very powerful and enjoys influence in all functions of state machinery to a level that the accountability law cannot even touch these so called sacred goats or crocodiles for their corrupt practices and misappropriation in public funds since they support themselves like a bunch of grapes. So is the reason that despite public echoing protests and uproars, no legal proceedings ever took place against such unscrupulous circles who have played havoc with the state resources and inflicted financial loss of millions to the Public Exchequer.
The corruption penetrates in the state departments and the country like blood and regrettably, no institution in the country is secure from this menace. The key departments such as FBR, Excise, Police, Health, Public Works, Civil bureaucracy.
If initial checks are made, the corrupt practices could be minimized at a massive level. On the other hand, we do realize and understand that Pakistan is not only the country where corruption is practised, but there are several countries in the world where such malpractices are found but there these corrupt practices are not regarded as right or authority but rarely practised in secret rather than public . Unfortunately, it is practised openly and publically in Pakistan unabatedly.
The State enterprises have remained the prime targets of administrative, financial and Political corruption having borne the brunt of such mismanagement that led to their financial crisis and losses . The state enterprises such as Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), WAPDA, PIA, SSGC, SNGPL and OGDCL are one of the examples of mismanagement, kickbacks, illegal and over recruitments that led them to their ill-performance and sustaining losses of billions.
The state has already injected billions of rupees to cover up their losses and keep them running but due to overstaffing and mounting circular debt, these institutions increasing the burden over the government budget and call for administrative and operational reforms to make them profitable by making managerial and operational changes specially at the executive management level who are drawing millions in salaries and perks but have failed miserably to chalk out any strategic master plan to bring PSEs back on the right track to cover their losses and operational costs and their profitability. The Political influence, recommendation and reference (Sifarish) culture has ruined these state enterprises as well as other departments which used to be functioning effectively in the past. The privatization commission must be tasked to privatize sick units so that debt burden may be minimized .
The Massive corruption in FBR also calls for administrative and civil reforms since corruption has become the dirty quagmire that drags and traps the executive management, politicians and civil bureaucracy as these elements fulfill their infinite desires with corrupt practices given the weak anti-Graft agencies i.e NAB, FIA and anti-corruption establishment (ACE) which remained and still remain under strong influence and often need NOCs to initiate legal proceedings.
But with PTI’s proactive role and independent judiciary under Chief Justice Saqib Nisar the situate has change much better than past as NAB, FIA and ACEs have become active and they have already tightened the noose against godfathers of corruption as the title for the most corrupt political was branded. The disqualification of Sitting PM Nawaz Sharif in Flagship reference and Al-Azizia mills cases and sentenced for 7 years rigorous punishment, his daughter Mariam Nawaz and son in law Safdar sentences and Shahbaz Sharif’s arrest in Ashiana housing case and the arrest of MNA Khwaja Saad Rafique and his brother Salman Rafique in illegal housing society case also have rung the alarm bells for corrupt elements and reflected the activeness and the autonomous status of NAB.
On the other hand, PPPs Co-chairman Asif Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and Omani group’s Anwar Majeed along with dozen others are also facing trial in fake accounts scandal. Even MPA and former minister Sharjeel Memon, CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah are also facing trials in illegal land allotment and corruption cases.
Even the ruling PTI Government stalwart and close aide Jahangir Tareen’s disqualification over tax evasion in agro land case are some of the living examples that how these State intuitions have become active and autonomous enjoying full support from the Government,Public and initiating the anti-graft legal proceedings against the Politicians, Bankers and higher bureaucracy ( Secretary level ) ever since they are being supported and strengthened by both the judiciary and the Incumbent PTI government under visionary and charismatic leader Imran Khan .
The opposition parties especially the PML-N and PPP are questioning the authority of NAB and terming the NAB proceedings as an attempt to suppress opposition and the PTI is blamed to be using NAB to target the opposition parties which is apparently not true since NAB is an autonomous body and PTI has no role in its operational framework. But the opposition’s tirade and the echoing pandemonium have no limits in severely criticizing NAB in press and political gatherings.
The public, on the other hand, stands patient and welcomes the anti-graft proceedings against executive leadership and despite several calls for protests from PML-N, it has not been able to win public support to build pressure on Government to stop legal proceeding against the Nawaz and his brother former CM Punjab and the current PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif. The NAB chief also confirmed in a media briefing that they do not take any dictation and enjoy full support from the government and exercising autonomous status. He further said that the public has trusted NAB and they have received hundreds of complaints and have started working on them after examining the level of graft and corrupt practices.
It is high time that government should further strengthen these anti-graft institutions to tighten the noose against the corrupt figures i.e politico or bureaucratic to reform the administrative, social and economic system and putting the country back on right track to ensure Transparency in all matters i. e the Public funds Spending, tendering and awarding contracts, recruitments, Health facilities, Security and protocol etc to save the nation from ever increasing tremors of inflation and overburden of Foreign loans. Since the constant depreciation of rupee against the dollar is the grave concern for the general public as the prices of commodities are going up and affecting the purchasing power of the public.
Furthermore, there is a strong need to create awareness among the people regarding the rampant corruption that can only be stopped through the whistleblowers among the people. Unless people with strong resolve against the corruption and corrupt elements come forward and play their role, the anti-graft agencies could do nothing without public support. Let’s join hands to raise voice against corruption and trust our institutions by implementing the NAB’s slogan: “Our Faith Corruption Free Pakistan” in letter and Spirit in this year 2019 to make our country free from this menace.