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Corruption and mafias.

Byline: Malik Muhammad Ashraf

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while talking to a delegation of farmers and growers who called on him on Tuesday made very pertinent observations about rampant corruption and the role of mafias in depriving farmers of due prices for their produce, evasion of taxes due from them and the manipulation of prices of sugar and other agricultural produce, taking advantage of the corrupt system. He further said that these mafias were sitting in the same row and belonged to all political parties. He attributed the ills enumerated above to the unimaginable corruption of the rulers which, according to him, had destroyed the country.

Nobody with a conscience and fair mindset can take exception to what the Prime Minister has said. The corruption of the rulers ruins the country and its social fibre. Saadi Sherazi said, 'If a ruler eats an egg illegitimately the people will eat the entire flock of hen the same way' What this means is that corruption trickles down from the top and has a debilitating impact on the society as well as the country .Corrupt rulers and systems lead to the emergence of different mafias who take advantage of the prevalent system of graft and entitlement and build their fortunes at the expense of the masses.

Though the Prime Minister seems determined to fight the corrupt mafia and hold those who have taken the national exchequer for a ride and stolen the national wealth accountable-as is evident from the scams on money laundering, benami properties and fake bank accounts that have come to light-it would be too difficult for him to take his crusade against corruption and corrupt rulers to its logical end. He will have to face stiff resistance from the politicians involved in corruption and mafias which are beneficiaries of the corrupt system sitting on the opposition and government benches. The emergence of the Jahangir Tareen pressure group within PTI is testimony to his proposition.

Another stumbling block in bringing the corrupt to book could be the flawed judicial system. During the last three years, not a single case of corruption filed by NAB has been concluded and the culprits punished. NAB itself is being targeted by the opposition parties. The judiciary including the apex court have repeatedly made unsavoury remarks about the bureau and accused it of being a tool for political engineering. The government also seems unhappy with its working.

From the foregoing facts it can be safely inferred that Imran Khan was the lone ranger as far as the fight against corruption is concerned. As they say first things first. Corruption cannot be checked and eliminated while the system itself is riddled with avenues of corruption and entitlement. The country since its birth has been governed through the archaic and corrupt system of the colonial era which has done nothing except perpetuating corruption and assigning political power to the landed aristocracy and the urban elite who are essentially anti-people.

We need to reform the system of governance in such a way as to break the hold of the feudal lords and urban elite on political power. The biggest culprit in this regard is the single constituency system to elect our representatives. The social milieu of Pakistan is such that no matter how many elections are held under this system, feudal lords and urban elite will maintain their grip on political power.

Judicial reforms are also absolutely imperative to provide cheap and quick justice to the people as well as discouraging the would-be corrupt from indulging in this detestable pursuit. The accountability apparatus also needs restructuring to eliminate the impression of its manipulation by the sitting government and being capable of resisting any pressure if it comes.

The successive government found a way to circumvent this constitutional requirement by allocating development funds to the members of the legislative assemblies, opening another avenue of corruption and the creation of yet another class of vested interests.

The country needs a complete break from its unenviable past by implementing the foregoing reforms if corruption is to be eliminated. A single honest man cannot do it by himself. Unfortunately, he would require the cooperation of the same people whom he dubs corrupt to change the system. The six million dollar question is; can he do it without enlisting their support to change the system?
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Author:Malik Muhammad Ashraf
Publication:The Nation (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Jun 12, 2021
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