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An Unstable Pakistan

Pakistan is unfortunately in the state of internal unrest and instability since independence. Different forms of governments had been applied to the country, by people of different visions, every one of them claiming to bring better tomorrow to the nation but unfortunately they made fool of people.

We are facing the crisis from the very beginning and are repeating our old mistakes. If we take an analytical view, South Korea, a developed country, took independence in 1945 (two years earlier than Pakistan) is now the 4th largest economy in Asia and 13th biggest economy in the world. It is the world leader in innovation and technology; advanced goods such as electronics, automobiles, ships, machinery, petrochemicals and robotics are the main exports and world-renowned companies Samsung, LG and Hyundai-Kia have their head offices there.

On the contrary, Pakistan is nowhere in the scene. Pakistan is a member of G-20 developing nations and stands as the 47th largest economy in the world in absolute dollar terms; thanks to the poor farmers in agriculture sector. Population of the country is growing on an exponential scale and on the other hand economy, which needs strengthening, is suffering badly due to internal politics. The ruling politicians are making decisions for their own benefits and with no structural planning. Difference between classes is increasing day by day. Money is still evolving among those few families who had owned Pakistan at the time of partition. Inflation is increasing with an unimaginable rate and poor people are not able to get the basic necessities for living.

These are the facts about current economical situation of the country, which are results of the actions of few people and are affecting the lives of millions. People in Pakistan are prisoners of their own identities; but there is something else, which is the root cause of all this – “corruption.”

This is that cruel beetle that is eating the foundations needed for the country to prosper. It is increasing its sphere everyday. The people of Pakistan are used to this and this has become a part of our lives. This is the main cause of our weakening economical situation and everyone in the country is playing his or her role in this.

In almost all government offices, corruption exists in one form or the other, be it irresponsible attitude of employees, bribery or the preference of their personal interests over professional interests. It is such a common ‘stock in trade’ that instead of considering it an issue, we can name it ‘a trend’
Bribery is considered haram in our religion as it is stated in :
Volume 3, Book 41, Number 572:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, “Whoever takes the money of the people with the intention of repaying it, Allah will repay it on his behalf, and whoever takes it in order to spoil it, then Allah will spoil him.”
We pray to god five times a day but we don’t care for the people living around us. Corruption is rooted deep in our society and whenever we have some pending work, we always try to find a known person in that office and thus get rid of the tiresome practice of standing in the queue. We do pay charity and sadqa but instead of paying traffic chalan, we offer bribe to the traffic sergeant in order to save our time and money.

This is a wrong practice, morally as well as religiously. We go to graveyards and realize that this is the place where we will rest forever; even then we collect money from illegal sources and build large villas to live in those virtual mansions. Getting the general idea from these examples, we do practice our religion but ignore our morals teachings, which are one of the strongest pillars of Islam.

Downfall of the nations starts from corruption and nepotism, which consequently leads to injustice and frustration among the masses. Nowadays, sermon in the mosques are about paying attention for prayers, giving zakat, doing hajj etc. But we really need some metamorphosis in our religious teachings. The religious scholars and imams of mosques should realize that most people are aware of these things and they do practice them. Even the corrupt ones in our society visit Ka’aba on and off. They should now focus on the moralities and society building, which are the thing in which we are lacking and we direly need to fix it. If religious people are able to change the minds of people and make them realize that these things are important for them individually and for the society; than these men would be the saviors of Muslims. Clergies should tell people that corruption is the eating up of rights of other people and relate it to Islam in a systematic way to change their minds so that our future generations should have anode minds. They should emphasize on Islamic moral, social and economic systems, and interpret before people the laws pertaining to these issues.

These steps would help building a corruption free society. Now we talk about the corruption on the macro level in Pakistan.

It is the root cause of our decline as it is prevalent from a clerk to the office of Mr. President. With that in mind, it is safe to say that expert sources indicate that the following sectors are among those that are most affected by corruption (the particular order varies from source to source):
• Police and law enforcement
• Judiciary and legal profession
• Power sector
• Tax and customs
• Health and education
• Land administration
In addition, these sectors seem to be affected by chains of:
• Petty corruption to access public services or to bypass the law (through the direct interaction of citizens with the respective authorities and bribe-paying)
• Middle and grand corruption (through corruption in public contracting and procurement as well as direct misappropriation of public funds by senior officials).
• In addition, political patronage, conflicts of interest, influence peddling and other forms of corrupt behavior are commonplace across the sectors.
• Procurement seems to be a major concern across most sectors
Now am going to discuss some sectors corruption in details
Police and law enforcement:
Corruption in the police and law enforcement is perceived to be pervasive – creating a culture of lawlessness and lack of credibility and trust in authorities. The police and law enforcement appointments are often politicized and full of conflict of interest. Criminals and rent-seeking and extortionist authorities are often the sole beneficiaries of the game.

Judiciary and legal profession:
There is widespread lack of public confidence in the institutional legitimacy of the justice system. Access to justice and the rule of law are undermined by corruption and are under a threat. Alongside the corrupt judiciary is the legal profession with low ethics of lawyers and poor controls of the bodies (such as the Pakistan Bar Council) responsible for maintaining the high standards that should be required of it.

Power sector corruption:
This government sector is full of corruption as people even after paying their bills of expensive electricity and gas don t get it properly. On the other hand, people in this sector take full advantage by using excess of free electricity and gas. Meter reader makes their money by bargaining with households and others, causing losses to government. WAPDA had got the most corrupt account system in the government sector. There came many cases in which imbalances were there in the aggregate money of the WAPDA account.

Tax and custom:
There is book “Corruption in Pakistan” by Susan Rose-Ackerman in which she writes, “Paying taxes and duties is always burdensome. In addition, custom agents control something that firm’s value-access to the outside world. Thus business and individuals may collude with tax collectors and custom agents to lower the sums collected and to expedite services. As a result revenue may be both inadequate and disturbed unfairly. For example, in Pakistan one study estimated that if the leakages caused by corruption and mismanagement could be reduced by 50 percent, the tax to GDP ratio will increase by 2 to 4 percent.”
So this is how much corruption is affecting our country’s uplift. Corruption is excessive in tax sector as well as imports and exports audit.

Health and education:
Indirectly corruption is root cause behind the failure of public services to local communities, including access to primary education and primary health care. Pakistan’s first education census exposes an ugly side of corruption prevalent in the education sector (Government of Pakistan 2005). The census revealed that of a total of 164,579 public sector schools in the country 12,737 educational institutions are ‘non-functional’. The teachers of most government school hardly come and are just concerned with their attendance. Some schools that are in feudal influenced areas are turned into cow farm, machinery place etc.
Health sector is also not spared from the ill effects of corruption. Quack health care providers are everywhere in rural and semi-urban areas, where people can’t afford expensive MBBS doctors. Making the people pay their lives for paying small money. Another dimension of the corrupt practices prevalent in health is the inhumane and materialistic behavior by doctors. As per the law of the country, all publicly employed doctors are forbidden from practicing privately and many of them receive non–practicing allowances as part of their non salary allowances. However, most of the publicly employed doctors are seen operating lucrative private sector clinics while working in hospitals and often use the public sector leverage to boost their private practice. Even in few hospitals uptil now, people pay some money to doctors to get extra health care and medicines; eating away the rights of other unwell people.

Land administration:
It is still one of the most corrupt sector of Pakistan. In Pakistan (TI 2002b), a survey showed that 133 out of 1724 respondents recalled contacting the land administration department and faced corruption. Main reasons to contact the department were transfer of property (25%0, buying land (24% and selling land (17%). Surveyors and tehsilders (revenue officers) appeared be most involved.

Land mafia is very active in most parts of Pakistan. They get hold of the lands of innocent people and than it’s very difficult to extract lands from them. Putwari and tehsilders jobs are considered to be the most corrupt job of this sector. Their scale is very small as well as pay but they make so up and down in the money that they build bungalows and have luxury cars.

Strong feudals give money to these men in jobs and take more water for their lands. So government money keeps on evolving among few effective corrupt people.
Public sector procurement and contracting:
There have been major concerns in this area. There is large-scale corruption in procurement and contracting affecting government and development aid funded programmes, public works, etc. Some of the systemic weaknesses have included the lack of a standardized procurement regime (sets of clear, transparent rules and legislation) along with absence of repository of procurement expertise in the government. Grounds and opportunities for corruption are provided at every stage of the procurement process (from preparation to tender, bid evaluation, negotiations, and contracting)

All the Pakistani government departments are entirely polluted by involvement of politicians on nepotism appointments and everywhere in Pakistan, without money no body hear the general peoples. Even judges bargain very openly between the parties to give money and take their decisions.

Anti-corruption proceedings have long been suspected of being skewed. They are mainly directed against members of the political opposition and minor civil servants while leaving the conduct of military officials outside scrutiny. Moreover, the National Reconciliation Ordinance of October 2007 has granted blanket immunity for past corrupt actions, shielding many public officials and members of the government from prosecution. The dismissal of members of the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Chaudhry, has led to violent civil unrest and further shaken the public’s trust in the judiciary to undertake anti-corruption prosecution.

How to overcome corruption:
So far we have looked at corruption as a disease of our society. It could be the cancer of our society or the AIDS of our society or a genetic disease of our society itself. Applying the concept of lateral thinking promoted by Edward De bono, we can see how corruption as a disease of our society can be tackled.
Corruption can be fought by the citizen as an individual or in groups in the form of an NGO. Just as an individual first has to maintain his own integrity before he takes on the challenge of fighting corruption, NGOs which are formed to fight corruption should first ensure that they themselves are clean and do not indulge in corrupt practices. It has been noticed that there are many NGOs that are indulged in corrupt practices. If such NGOs also take up the issue of fighting corruption, they are not likely to be successful.

I think, basically most of us are selfish. When we face a problem, we are interested in finding immediate solutions. It may sometimes involve breaking the queue or breaking the rules or sometimes it may involve a financial advantage. How many of us insist on a regular receipt when we buy things with the sales tax duly added? In order to save on sales tax, cash transactions have become more the rule than the exception. Perhaps, the scope of corruption also in such departments is also correspondingly higher.

What do we do in such a situation? The easiest option is not to do anything, accept the reality and take a cynical view to live with corruption. It will be like that situation where an astrologer advised a worried client that he was having all the problems because in his horoscope Saturn and Jupiter were in very harmful places and this might continue for the next two years. Hopefully, the client asked: “What will happen after two years?” The astrologer told him that he would get accustomed to it! Perhaps the majority of the people in the country are adopting this advice.

Educational system can be another major area where values can be inculcated and the need for integrity ingrained. Perhaps an open discussion especially about the nexus between corruption and its negative impact on social development has to be ingrained in the public. Once this value gets institutionalized, perhaps we would have made some progress.

Looking to the situation that the corruption is accepted cynically and is not considered a negative factor in politics, the following elements of strategy may be considered to curtail corruption:
• The first step needed is creating widespread and continuous awareness among the public signal about the dangers of corruption. It is necessary to highlight the fact that how corruption, in fact, is at the root of the many issues that worry and cause dissatisfaction among the public. This could be in the form of inadequate availability of employment opportunities, drinking water, schools, roads and so on
• If the common man is more bothered about the corruption at the cutting edge rather than at the higher level, can there be a systemic focus on eliminating corruption at the cutting edge! This initiative will have to come from the people at the top. Any government, from a political point of view, may not mind focusing on the cutting edge level corruption as this may win them some popularity. So far as the higher level corruption is concerned, perhaps the common man gets a sadistic pleasure if some of the top people are punished
Another approach, which is of a long-term nature, is to see how some of the institutions of governance can be strengthened. This will be not only institutions fighting against corruption but also institutions meant for providing the welfare of the people or even maintenance of law and order. It is because of the failure of governance, which creates an atmosphere, and corruption flourishes. This is an approach that has to be thought of and any government, which tries this probably, will be able to overcome the anti-incumbency factor.

Finally the value a person imbibes depends on his family circumstances, the society in which he lives, peer pressure and religion. No religion recommends that one should be corrupt but religions also have recognized the weakness of human beings and tried to regulate their conduct.

Our religion tells us not to take a single penny from anyone illegally. In taking into account the experience of countries like Britain, Singapore or Botswana which have been able to bring greater probity in public life, perhaps we may also hope for a social transformation by adopting a multi pronged strategy. One important element of this strategy must be system changes. Another element must be the shaping of the minds of people through education. A third of course would be the efforts of religious and public opinion leaders as well as by media in continuously shaping public opinion and re-inculcating the values of integrity and honesty.