November 20, 2010

Rise of the corrupt

The rising corruption in Pakistan has become a major
global concern. (Photo:
We think that the corruption that we see in Pakistan is hidden, that the world cannot see it. That is probably the reason why the Government of Pakistan, Salman Taseer and Hussain Haqqani from an entire corps of other people decried the Transparency International ruling about how Pakistan is sinking into a myriad web of corruption.

However, the fact of the matter is that the corruption in Pakistan is like an open advertisement; open even to those who do not wish to see it. Consider the following example: Two children were born in rickshaws because the mothers couldn’t get to hospitals on time. The reason for them being unable to get to hospital was because of VIP movement due to which the police cordoned off the roads and did not allow anyone to pass through. People will remember how a Karachi University girl died in an ambulance in Karachi, because the roads had been closed for Pervez Musharraf’s motorcade. Compare these atrocities to the fact that in every VIP motorcade, there is always an ambulance that is trailing behind the “King’s” bulletproof vehicle.

The sorry state of affairs does not end here. Only today for example, while coming from Peshawer to Lahore on the motorway, I had to make way for a “VIP” who was travelling at breakneck speed. As if his bulletproof Mercedes wasn’t enough to ensure that us lowly scum subsided from his rear view mirror, there were three police vehicles “escorting” him. Even this wasn’t enough, as every flyover on the motorway had a police vehicle standing by on top of it with policemen looking down on the motorway like eager kids waiting for the circus parade to pass. On a service stop I asked a patrol man as to why he did not fine the “super fast” VIP and his response shocked me. He said that the VIP was exempted from the speed limit, and there are no less than 71 other people who are also exempted from the motorway’s speed limit of 120 km/h.

Such ostentatious displays of power do not augur well for the well being of the country. Where the rulers have different rules for the ruled and different rules for themselves, you can well imagine how it is almost impossible to expect the system to work. The famous saying that “absolute power corrupts absolutely” comes to life in Pakistan. Where the rulers have declared themselves to be above the law that is applied to the commoners, it is quite understandable that they will indulge in atrocious behaviour that is detrimental to the country’s image, whilst being hugely beneficial to their own.

This is the real face of Pakistan. While we continue to shy away from it and try to draw parallels from the West about how corrupt they are, we forget that two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because somebody else does it does not mean that we doing it are right. Similarly, instead of taking the Transparency International report positively and trying our best to eliminate, and at the very least address, the glaring fallacies present in our system, we dismissed it with the flick of a hand; or a tweet in case of Salman Taseer and Hussain Haqqani.

This system needs an overhaul. Unless we can get decent people at the very top, people who feel that they are not demigods, only then can we even begin to look towards our strategic partners and ask them for help. Until our image problem is not resolved, it would be totally futile and useless to keep pestering them to bail us out.