The risks of corruption and bribery swell when the constitution, legislation and statutes are not enforced. Corruption hinders the public’s purchasing power, decreases the household budgets, raises a country’s budget deficit, obstructs foreign direct investment, dissipates the effectiveness the use of aid, decreases political legitimacy and reduces the democratic development.
Pakistan’s development depends on how much of the State’s resources are lost to this dreadful practice. This has reduced Pakistan’s output and dragged down the entire nation’s living standard. Pakistan ranks 116 in the world in corruption according to Transparency International, making the country lose much in foreign aid from international financial institutions including IMF, World Bank, UN, Asian Development Bank and multilateral agencies etc.
Many experts in Pakistan believe that extreme poverty and lack of justice exist due to bribery, extortion, illegal activities and abuse of power. Corruption is both a cause and consequence of this poverty. Systemic or organised corruption is linked to nonexistence of good governance and the degree of corruption, bribery and nepotism in a society purely depends on the level of trust, control and good governance of a particularly country.
The existing VIP culture translates into misuse of government resources and public taxpayers’ money. This includes free cars and guards, police personnel for private security, subsidised land grants, free parking at charged spots, misuse of authorities in shape of nepotism for jobs friends and family member (sifarish), various permits and exemptions, free access to VIP lounges at airports, fire engine and ambulances as rescue vehicles in a convoy and the list goes on. VIP culture, corruption and bad governance eat a nation’s wealth and jeopardise the welfare of the society. For example, Central Jail administration Karachi is reportedly providing VIP facilities to death row inmate Shahrukh Jatoi, convicted in the infamous Shahzeb Khan murder case.
Political corruption has many forms and shapes, but political corruption is the use of power by government representatives for illegitimate personal gain, accomplished through money laundering, extortion, bribery, human trafficking and harms public policy.
There is a strong link between corruption and poverty. Evidences from the World Bank report shows quite clearly, that every 4/10 Pakistani are caught in the ‘acute poor’ bracket i.e.: some 57.5 million out of a total population of 192 million subsist below the poverty line. This includes more than 50 percent the population in the forever remote Balochistan, 34 per cent in Sindh, 33 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 17 per cent in Punjab. These are daunting figures for every Pakistani.
We have often heard of our State Leaders’ to eliminate corruption within the government and the society – as and when it suits their political interests. Corrupt Government officials often use their investigative and political powers to intimidate poor people and political opponents.
But unfortunately current regime has totally unsuccessful to form any tangible measures against corruption or to take any solid steps towards strengthening the law-enforcement institutions. Strong and fair competition between small numbers of political parties is one of the best ways to control corruption.
Did the leaders make the Nandipur plant project for the benefit of the society or was the motive to make money? And as for the Metro bus project – it has been in the limelight from few years because of corruption, kickbacks and allegations of mismanagement.
State Leaders, police, judiciary and law enforcement agencies play a pivotal role to establish strong judicial system, maintain check and balance on corruption and promoting well being of the society. In Pakistan, they are unfortunately themselves fully involved in corruption. The reality is whatever accountability standards they did put in place, were meant for their political opponents rather than an arrangement for across the board accountability. Corruption hinders the economic growth and sustainable developments. Increase in corruption in any society lead to bad governance.
The perils of corruption directly and indirectly impact the life of poorest the most, in Pakistan. In addition to strong moral and ethical values, the best remedies against corruption and bribary are an independent media, judiciary, legislation mechanism and parliamentary system.
No country in history has achieved long-term economic growth by Foreign Aid. Pakistan has been the beneficiary of foreign aid since its independence. Much of the foreign aid dependence harms the quality of governance by increasing level of corruption in the country. Donor’s money flowing in without question and mostly goes into the pockets of corrupt government and non-government officials. To improve foreign aid transparency, some changes in policies, which directly or indirectly reduce corruption, increase accountability of governments and public sectors, are required.
On the other hand, Political parties can play vital role in these processes. Strong political parties are essential to take interested to promote competitive democratic politics in the country in order to reduce corruption.
The argument in favour of democracy is that the tainted politicians should be strictly banned to participate in general elections. The aim of political parties should not be winning the next election but also consider fulfilling the promises made in the last. Moreover, the removal of economic policies relying too heavily on the discretion of politicians to enforce laws, use their position to assign resources and self interest decision making helps minimise the opportunities for corruption. In the end, it’s clear: legislation against corruption and abuse of power has to be strict and has to be enforced.