Taking the state for a ride

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  • Corruption is a criminal act

In the backdrop of revelations about fake bank accounts and money laundering, the JIT formed by the chief justice on 5th September has submitted its report which unravels mind-boggling details about the properties acquired the former President Asif Ali Zardari and his sibling Faryal Talpur; both within and outside the country and the network that was established and used to launder the ill-gotten wealth for money laundering. It gives an incisive peep into how men in power and politicians who have ruled this country have been using their position and authority to take the state for a ride to build their own fortunes as well as their families and those who helped them to accomplish their sinister designs.

Political corruption occurs at the highest level of the political system usually at the policy formulation level when politicians and state agents entitled to make and enforce laws in the name of the people, use their position to sustain their power, status and wealth leading to misallocation of resources and perversion of the process of decision making. Systemic or endemic corruption is an integrated and essential aspect of the economic, social and political system prevalent in a country, embedded in a wider situation that helps to sustain it.

There are no two opinions about the fact that we are a society completely immersed in corruption, which decidedly has been the bane of our socio-economic development and national integration. Our rulers both military dictators and politicians are equally responsible for this detestable phenomenon, which due to its trickle-down effect has also penetrated into the entire fabric of our society.

Law enforcing agencies, lower judiciary and government departments which are supposed to ensure rule of law, justice, checking corruption and promoting well being of the masses, are themselves afflicted with corruption to the core. And regrettably there seems no end in sight to this process of self-destruction. We have often been hearing from the rulers about their resolve to eliminate corruption from the echelons of the government and the society as and when it suited their political interests. But the fact is that whatever accountability mechanisms they did put in place, they were meant to target their political opponents rather than an arrangement for across the board accountability. Political expediencies have been the overriding considerations in letting the corrupt elements and power wielders off the hook.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is right in claiming that the JIT reports in Panama and fake accounts are case studies of how states fail

Thanks to the personal interest of the chief justice of Pakistan and the commitment of the PTI government to unfurl a crusade against corruption and the looters of the national wealth that for the first in the history of the country a genuine and honest initiative seems to have been taken to nail them. There are credible portents to suggest that if in the end the revelations made in the JIT report are substantiated in the court of law the accused will surely meet the fate that they deserve. Personal involvement of the CJ and his unequivocal declaration that the looters of the national wealth would not be spared and he would personally see to it that the law takes its course, provides adequate guarantee to the fact that political expediencies would no more be a determinant factor in dealing with the corrupt elements involved in this mega corruption scandal.

It is pertinent to point out that the opposition parties particularly PPP and PML-N have been running a sustained campaign to create an impression that the cases of corruption against them were tantamount to political victimization and a consequence of collusion between NAB and the PTI government. The PPP while giving its reaction to the JIT report has tried to hammer this notion. But the hollowness of its claim is established by the fact that JIT was formed on the orders of the CJ and not the government. The JIT comprised Additional DG FIA, a Brigadier from ISI, an official of SECP, a high ranking official of the State Bank, a Tax Commissioner and a director from NAB. As is evident it was not a report compiled by NAB only. The JIT was formed in view of the fact that white collar crimes are very difficult to investigate and therefore its members should have the relevant expertise to dig deep into the scam, bare its entire contours and identify specifically the persons involved in it. The JIT seems to have done its job quite diligently under the personal supervision of the CJ himself. There is therefore no room for attaching motives to the investigations done by JIT.

Chairman NAB taking notice of the sustained propaganda against his organisation has expressed the resolve that the agency would persist with its relentless efforts to bring the corrupt elements to book irrespective of their political stature and intimidating tactics.

Therefore the effort by the political parties to politicise the issue of corruption is not going to help their cause this time. It would therefore be advisable for them to face these cases in the courts of law using their legal and constitution right to defend their stance. Corruption is a criminal act and those involved in it or alleged to have been involved can only plead their innocence or otherwise through legal channels. There is no justification whatsoever for them to attach motives to the state agencies probing the corruption cases. Playing political card no more seems relevant at least till the time the present CJ is around and the PTI government is in saddle, which has taken an uncompromising position on the issue. In all probability there will be no NROs or deals like in the past to let the corrupt elements go scot free.

Elimination of corruption, making the corrupt political leaders and their cronies to pay for their crimes and plugging the avenues of corruption through systemic reforms is a national cause and there is an unyielding national consensus on it. If this country has to move forward the menace of corruption will have to be tackled effectively. Enough is enough. There is an imperative need to work against corruption with a missionary zeal by all the stakeholders in the future prosperity and progress of the country. It is indeed an uphill task under the prevailing circumstances but given the will nothing is impossible. The PTI has won the franchise of the people on the basis of the pledge to ensure good governance and elimination of corruption.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is right in claiming that the JIT reports in Panama and fake accounts are case studies of how states fail. He has rightly identified corruption as number one challenge confronting the country and a cause of all its woes. However mere identify the disease is not enough. Proper cure is warranted. The efforts of the government in regards to tackling corruption and roping in the corrupt politicians and public office holders will surely be backed by the people provided the process is indiscriminate, transparent, across the board and in conformity with the law and the constitution.

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