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Citizen Voices

Perils Of Corruption In Pakistan

Apart from other existing and perpetual menaces that have worsened Pakistan’s frail condition, corruption is one of the worst curses Pakistan is currently witnessing. The roots of corruption in Pakistan can be traced back to the colonial period when the British used to give favours, lands and titles to their loyal supporters and this practice promoted the bad culture of nepotism and favouritism as a kind of corruption. Furthermore, delving the chronicles of Pakistan will clearly paint an unforgiving picture of country’s downfall in the last seventy years.

After Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan somewhat, with the help of petro-dollars, shouldered its economy. After the death of Zia, Pakistan was laid in the trap of IMF charity and since then, the plague of corruption has been haunting the country inside out. Had it not been for IMF loans, the country might have been among the developed countries today.

Corruption is not only an ethical issue; it can cause human rights issues, economic uncertainty, and slow down socio-economic development. According to International Monetary Fund, the cost of corruption is about $1.2 to $2 trillion, which is approximately 2% of global GDP. In the context of Pakistan, corruption can be found in different forms both in public and private sectors –such as nepotism, offering of entertainments, illegal facilitation of payments, embezzlements and money laundering, fraud, bribery, and gift receiving.

To counter the whopping corruption in the country, under the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance 1999 (NAO), the institution of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was introduced to fight tooth and nail to mitigate the growing culture of corruption.

According to Amnesty International, in Pakistan, the most relevant corruption related issues are lack of merit, grand corruption, embezzlement of public fund, and tax evasion. Additionally, poor infrastructure, misuse of authority, and government bureaucracy are also the causes of unprecedented corruption in Pakistan.

As per recent country rankings on corruption by Transparency International, Pakistan stands on the spot 120 out of 180 countries, slipping three spots from previous year’s place despite increased anti-corruption efforts.

Given aforementioned statistics, one can gauge the intense ratio of corruption in the country. Corruption is not only detected in commercial sectors, but, the political, judicial, and even the religious sector are also marred by this plague. With all such daunting issues, Pakistan cannot compete the international market in an effort to be amongst the well developed economies.

Arguably, there are certain causes of corruption in Pakistan including a) abuse of power by the public office holders; b) political leaders’ incompetence; c) poor salary in the public sector; d) lack of transparency; e) lack of monitoring; f) lack of implementation of anti-corruption laws; g) illiterate and ignorant populace with inadequate public discernment of political choices; h) power of influential people; and I) failure in combating of corruption in the country.

The adverse implications of above mentioned causes are extremely loathsome and have been witnessed so far. For example, the image of Pakistan as being corrupted is hindering foreign investment, save China. According to pessimists, the corruption results in discouraging the Multinational Companies to invest in the region as it amplifies the uncertainty linked with foreign investment opportunities.

Besides impacts on Foreign Direct Investment(FDI), the corruption in Pakistan is criminalizing the lower class segment. It is creating a new bridge between downtrodden and elite. The severity of inequality in the society is pressing the poor to the brink of extreme poverty. More so, there is direct relationship between poverty and corruption. The public funds which are for the welfare of the masses are prone to the embezzlement.

For decades and so, National Accountability Bureau(NAB) is working day and night to mitigate the culture of corruption, but this disease has hit the core of our bureaucracy, lured our very politicians, religious cults, and stakeholders. The money laundering case against model-actress Ayan Ali is one of the glaring examples in recent times.

To further ameliorate the NAB laws, policy makers should come up with staunch ways and effective measures to implement the existing laws.

Inter alia, besides high GDP per capita, lesser inequalities, higher literacy, law enforcement and strong obligations to policies against corruption by the political leaders; the freedom of media and press, transparency mechanism, and public participation in the fight against corruption can also be the panaceas to control the corruption culture. Corporate governance like ethical leadership, fairness in procurement, marketing, production and human resource management can improve the organizational environment against it. The effective implementation of anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws is imperative.

In a nutshell, corruption in Pakistan is undoubtedly a calamity and a hurdle in the socio-economic development of the country. It affects the most vulnerable segments of the society and causes inequality and poverty. Thus, the leaders, stakeholders, and policy makers should heed the words of Muhammad Ali Jinnah which were delivered at the National Constituent Assembly on 11 Aug 1947 about corruption.

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Naya Daur