Curbing Corruption in Pakistan
09 June 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
In the wake of the earth-shaking Panama Leaks, it is morally incumbent upon
the politicians and businessmen alike to declare their assets in Pakistan and
those stashed abroad. No matter how much and vehemently the Sharif family
justifies their wealth kept abroad, the poignant fact stares in their faces
that the names of the children of the incumbent prime ministers have been
mentioned in Panama Papers. It is a stigma which would remain there as long as
the fog around the Sharif family is not cleared.
not only the Sharif family members exposed in the Panama papers for keeping
offshore accounts, there are countless others around the world who stashed
their wealth in the fake accounts created and maintained by a law firm of
Panama ''Mossack Fonseca''.
Someone may sooner or
later go to the courts in Pakistan for an indigenous inquiry into the wealth
and accounts that belong to the Sharif family. If the wealth is justified and
the tax paid on that money the Sharif family including the prime minister
himself and his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif would earn a lasting reputation
and good name.
In recent times, the coalition
government led by the Pakistan Peoples Party from 2008 to 2013 is criticized
as the most corrupt government in the nation's history. In 2012 The
Transparency International (TI) calculated that Pakistan had lost more than Rs
8.5 trillion (94 billion U. S. dollars) in corruption, tax evasion and bad
governance in the PPP-led coalition government between 2008 and 2013''.
The allegations of massing massive illicit wealth have been
leveled against various PPP politicians particularly Asif Ali Zardari the
current co-chairperson of the PPP and former president of Pakistan. Besides
there are several other top notches of the PPP including two former prime
ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf against whom the cases of
mega corruption and ill-gotten money are pending in the courts. There are
scores of other political figures and public office holders who are notorious
and well known for massing money by misusing their power and position.
In recent times some of the provincial ministers and wealthy individuals of
Pakistan have fled to other countries and sought refuge there to be immune
from the judicial enquires, public ire and sullied reputation. All such people
should be brought back to face the law. In case of being proven guilty their
assets should be confiscated by the state and they be given punishments as
permissible under the law.
In all these years Pakistan
has been a hunting ground for self seekers of al hues and cries for making
money through every conceivable and dubious means. A judicial commission
consisting of individuals of transparent character, probity, honesty and
immaculate integrity should be set-up to take stock of the corruption of the
past several decades by powerful individuals both officials and non officials.
Strict steps and laws should be put in place to stop corruption and misuse of
powers in Pakistan.
The National Accountability Bureau
(NAB) established in Pakistan in 1999 is empowered by the constitution ''to
launch investigations, conduct inquiries, and issue arrest warrants against
the individuals suspected in the financial mismanagement, financial terrorism,
corruption in private sectors, state sector, defense sector and corporate
sector and direct the cases to the courts. However it was criticized for its
unwillingness to prosecute former Army officers involved in corruption
All cases of corruption and financial malpractices pending in the courts must
be finalized and no fresh dates or reprieves should be given to the culprits
and wrong doers. The NAB should also initiate enquiry and actions against the
members of judiciary involved in taking bribes and kickbacks.
If army cannot be brought under the NAB investigation network
then it can work out its own system of accountability to weed out corruption
in the army's rank and file. One can assume that there must be underhand deals
involving kickbacks of millions of dollars pocketed by concerned individuals
involved in mega deals of purchasing the military hardware, weaponry and
There is an indispensible need to reform
accountability network and strict implementation of anti-corruption policies
by the government. The main objective is to clean the cobwebs of corruption
whether in the civil set up or in the army.
It would be naive to expect that by catching the corruption bull by horn, the
corruption or its perpetrators would vanish. But one can expect that through a
vibrant national campaign against corruption, its scale and incidence would
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a
former diplomat. This and other articles by the
writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com.