I am reminded of my tender years when during occasional visit to my village, some friend would whisper that this house belongs to a Revenue Clerk (Patwari) who takes bribe, so don’t eat or drink from here. Now the same house has transformed into a huge bungalow with “Haza-min-Fazllah Raabi” carved on top of it. People consider it an honour to be invited there. The murmur is no more, now people talk of their wealth and resourcefulness and honour them for their power. Such has been our moral degeneration over the last three to four decades.
Though it’s distressing, but there is no wonder that we can hardly find an organisation in the country that could be classified as corruption free. It is widespread yet difficult to be proved. Everyone complains of it, however, makes effort to approach functionaries of different departments using fair or foul means to get their jobs done.
A dispassionate scrutiny of the whole situation reveals that the menace isn’t confined to governmental departments alone, rather the whole society has been infected. In fact, it has become our way of life. Our political and bureaucratic offices are infested with abuses like nepotism, embezzlement, bribery, extortion, influence peddling, and fraud.
These foul practices are posing developmental challenge, undermining democracy and hampering accountability. Corruption in judicial system has eroded the rule of law, weakened the institutions and undermined social and cultural values. It has impeded economic development, enhanced inefficiency and cost of doing business. In the presence of all these vices, there is no wonder that we listen of corruption scandals every now and then. Certainly, it has eaten up the country like termite.
The major governmental enterprises like PIA, Railways, Steel Mill, Wapda and other energy sector establishments, health services, education, etc. have almost collapsed and are on the verge of closure. Are we so incompetent and naive that we can neither arrest the situation nor can turn it around? In fact, that is not the case; we have no shortage of honest and competent people. What we need is to denounce corruption as a nation, rise above personal gains and muster political will to put the things right.
Corruption is a global phenomenon and there are nations who have successfully managed to control this Jinni. The recipe calls for limiting the authority of government officials, removing their discretionary powers, putting in place an effective system of checks and balances and stern accountability. Use of modern technology to minimize human interaction and their control over processes can go a long way in reducing corruption.
As an easy way out, privatisation is also advocated as a measure that relieves the government of administrative and financial responsibilities. Liberalisation of governmental control on business activities like elimination of tariffs, quotas, exchange rate, permits, etc also helps in checking corruption. But government should only resort to privatization and loosening of governmental control after a lot of deliberations as these two options can be exploited by corrupt elements. One of the most effective tools to check, control, and to bring corruption to justice is the media.
Investigative reporting can play an important role in unearthing and publicising malpractices. Media can also build pressure on the government to take preventive and punitive measures. In Pakistan, the media is doing a good job by identifying loose ends and by drawing the government’s attention towards such events.
One of the most obvious reason for the growth of corrupts in our society is increase in materialistic tendencies. In fact lust for money has gripped our society and as a community we have drifted away from Islam.
Honesty, contentment and social justice have given way to corruption, cruelty and lust. We are no more practicing one of the most emphasized injunctions of Islam that is to call people to righteous deeds and stop them from evil doing. We need to revisit our socio-religious structure because there is a definite increase in the number of mosques and those who regularly visit these for prayers but Islamic teaching like honesty, truthfulness, trustworthiness, balance in life, contentedness etc. aren’t visible in our society.
Obviously, there is a need to revitalise our beliefs that can only be done through enlightening education. A balanced education that makes us understand the Islamic principles rather than enslaving us of western philosophies holds key to our mental and material development. But let me remind you that there is no quick fix for such a grave problem. It is going to be a long drawn war, which can only be won through collective efforts of the people and government.