Transparent corruption

 
January 26, 2020

Prime Minister Imran Khan has been using the data provided by the Berlin-based organization Transparency International for over a decade to prove the degree of corruption of previous governments....

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Prime Minister Imran Khan has been using the data provided by the Berlin-based organization Transparency International for over a decade to prove the degree of corruption of previous governments. But the TI Index for 2019 places Pakistan at 120th position out of 180 countries on its list of countries perceived to be the most corrupt in the world. Till last year, Pakistan had stood at 117th place. The difference, in statistical terms, may be a minor one. In political terms however, it is huge for a government that has used its promise of ending corruption as its primary slogan.

Rather than accepting the report and taking note of its recommendations, the government has chosen to lash out at the report and has claimed it is biased and, according to Information Adviser Firdous Ashiq Awan, put together by a cartel of interests opposed to Pakistan. It is difficult to say how this came about in an organization Imran Khan has consistently praised in the past. TI uses a series of different indicators to measure corruption and assembles a database to gather its information. There is also no Pakistan involvement in the compiling of the report on the country. It will therefore be extremely difficult to prove the assertions that it has been manipulated by powerful elements within the country. In fact, PTI allies and members of the government itself in the provinces and the centre have begun asking questions. In Punjab the PML-Q is reported to have raised concerns over the management of the province and particularly the ‘atta’ and sugar crisis. In Balochistan, PTI allies have done the same and voices questioning possible unfair play from within the PTI have been raised in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. While Imran Khan in the past had noted conflict of interest was a major problem in Pakistan, there are allegations by opposition that his government’s agricultural concerns are run by those who own major mills of their own. They are perhaps then not the best persons to appoint to look into a crisis believed to have been created by mill owning mafias.

There are other highly embarrassing concerns for the PTI. While corruption which took place five, 10 or 20 years ago is being taken up by NAB, the agency has not challenged the stay placed on inquiries into the BRT scandal in Peshawar. The government needs to tell us why this is the case. NAB needs to explain as well and the PTI government needs to face up to the truth. First off, the brouhaha that only the previous governments were corrupt must stop. This has been going on for seven decades and now a new narrative is needed, which should realize that perpetuation of the ruling elite – both political and seemingly non-political – is one of the major causes of corruption, and no one person, no matter how clean and salt-of-the-earth, can change society unless the fundamentals are addressed.



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