The case of corruption in Pakistan

Khawaja Wajih-u-Din

There is no doubt in the fact that the evil of corruption has reached our skins deep down. This is an Inescapable hard fact of life. One must also admit that after the partition no serious effort was made to stem the tide, because of first two years were the perilous years due to influx of refugees and the government could not do anything, but even afterwords only fragmentary efforts were made with no dedication. With Half hearted efforts, coupled with callousness, the results could be only disgusting. There can be no doubt that corruption is prevalent in all the countries in the world. But in our country it has attained a horrible magnitude it has assumed horrendous proportions, much to the detriment of the entire society, which is bleeding by its tremendous impact.
There is poor class in the country. On the other hand there is very rich class. Who is getting richer and richer. The middle class, thanks to the higher inflation and price hikes has been bracketed with the almost poor class. The rich class has assumed wealth by illegitimate means for it must be understood that excessive wealth can be achieved by foul means only. For example by deceit, fraudulence, hypocrisy, sycophancy and what not. Now this poor class person sees a person who has become rich in a matter of months, by adopting unfair means, naturally he has to follow suit. He wants to go up monetarily in utter disregard of moral, ethics and the moral code, which becomes insignificant for him, he too wants to achieve that monetary standard to look big. So this cycle goes on and today we see the culmination of all that race towards achieving monetary stability.
The state of corruption in Pakistan blossomed by leaps and bounds when evacuees property was being distributed here. There was actual plunder by those who mattered. Non-deserving persons joined the plunder with official connivance and political strength, and there was race for allotment of factories cinemas and buildings etc. This created a class of upstarts. On the official side with the departure of Hindus and British, there was a vacuum in services and this had to be filled by promoting junior officers, who could not possibly match their new assignments because of their lack of expediency and insufficient qualifications.
As a consequence with the business in the hands of upstarts and non-deserving people and senior jobs in the hands of mediocre’s, the equilibrium was badly shaken. It is common knowledge, that when acumen, efficiency and capability is replaced by plunder favoritism and inefficiency the results are disastrous. Favoritism played with the morality and the process of degeneration started in the right earnest. It’s direct consequence was corruption with the new vigor.
It’s a pity that political people were also swayed by the same Temptations and the corruption reigned supreme with no abatement in sight. However up-to 1958, the magnitude of this madness was not that alarming. History tells us that when the field Marshall took over things began to change suddenly. His patronage of the rich acted as a catalyst and consequently accelerated at a faster speed.
Elders used to tell me that when Ayub khan left we were drenched in corruption and it was a very disappointing picture. Subsequently there was a time in Pakistan when mediocrity was encouraged over education, intelligence and intellectualism. This policy added fuel to the fire. The last three years of 70s and much of the 80s bears testimony to this fact.
We have witnessed the same families in the government despite different political parties in power. These political elite mostly do not believe in building a system or take stringent measures for eradication of corruption. In fact some of them, for political consideration, strive to damage institutions that are in place. The intellectually dishonest play in the hands of powers that be, and act as a propaganda machine for the corrupt.
Perhaps successive rulers have fallen pray to the machinations of the business, feudal lords and the exploiters class. Like others in the country these classes are also notorious for manipulating things and for collecting wealth. In other countries like USA also the influence wielded by this class is colossal. They have a share in making and unmaking governments. That is why the capitals of almost all the countries of the world are located far away from the commercial places. Perhaps London is a bold exception.
Having said that it would be unfair only to blame one class for the entire tragedy. We live in a society where you cannot get pure milk even on paying the demanded price. For that also you need to have a contact or a friend. It is a routine observation that for petty matters like an electricity connection or paying a bill you need to have right connection in the right place. Where as a person who believes in actual public service honestly and dedicatedly is considered a fool. There was a time when honest people were just sidelined. Now honest people are viciously taken to task through vengeance. No wonder, people most of the time, who believe in deceit, fraud and manipulation, make it to the top. Honesty with intelligence is a rare combination in Pakistan. People who are honest are sadists and those intelligent are corrupt. This indeed is a dilemma for doors responsible for running the affairs of the government.
Without prejudice to the above but in addition there too it can be safely stated that till today no serious effort was made to tackle this madness of corruption and putting systems in place. We have seen adhoc measures over a period of time. The successive governments may have raised a slogan against corruption but all the drama seemed to be politically motivated. Instead of strengthening one institution there has been a tendency to create one institution over and above the other. The end result of all the mismanagement is that the rate of corruption has increased. I remember that in my advocacy days a police officer having told me that the person who makes him happy is charged in nominal offenses rather than serious ones during martial law days. He used to give options to people and had rates for everything.
The people of Pakistan have seen many institutions, Commissions formed for eradication of corruption. Most of the people appointed at the helm of those institutions perhaps did not have the will, intention, capacity or the required desire. So then another commission is formed and the reports neither see daylight nor acted upon.
It would be proper to say that corruption is now part of her life it has gone deep down our skins and bodies. It is not possible to eradicate it. It can only be minimized, but Herculean efforts are necessitated coupled with sincerity of purpose and total dedication. A particular section of society or a particular part of society is not corrupt, the entire society without any reservations, is soaked in this colossal abyss. Half hearted measures would not deliver the goods. Drastic steps consistent with the dictates of the situation, situation viewed in total true perspective and weighed in the crucible of facts are required.
I would request the readers to kindly go through the suggestions given in my article quoted above. We can begin with doing away with ostentation, encouraging merit and placing honest and intelligent people at the helm of affairs. As a nation we need to strongly inculcate ethical and moral code in all the citizens.
(The writer is former Registrar of Peshawar High Court)