On the eve of May 6, news channels were abuzz with news of the recovery of hundreds of millions of rupees from the house of Mushtaq Raisani, the top finance man in Balochistan.
Raisani was arrested by NAB and suspended by the government of Balochistan when Rs630 million was recovered from his home. The adviser on finance to the Balochistan CM, Khalid Langau, was also arrested after couple of weeks of playing hide and seek with NAB.
These two high-profile arrests hinted towards a relentless anti-corruption drive in Balochistan but what has transpired since then shows things are not proceeding in the desired way.
Balochistan faces immense corruption. The corrupt ministers and bureaucrats of the province are well known. However, no action has been taken against anyone other than the aforementioned two individuals. This raises a very valid question: is the so-called anti-corruption drive restricted to Khalid Langau and Mushtaq Raisani only?
There can be several reasons such as capacity issues on the part of NAB or political compulsion which is preventing any further action. Still, there should have been some indication that this anti-corruption drive will broaden up. It seems NAB will restrict this drive to just local government corruption cases.
Circles within the provincial bureaucracy are also viewing the anti-corruption drive with suspicion. Honest officers who want an end to corruption have also began to question the motives behind the Bollywood movie-like raid on Mushtaq Raisani’s home. More than one provincial bureaucrat has said that there could have been some peculiar motives behind this raid.
They believe that it was just a one-off exercise, meant to frighten the provincial bureaucracy so that the federal departments can tighten their hold on the affairs of the province. One can’t accept the fears of these bureaucrats at face value, but at the same time they can’t be brushed under the carpet altogether.
The impacts of the improper execution of the anti-corruption drive are already visible. Sources say that routine work in the finance department and the planning and development (P&D) department has been paralysed. Officers are reluctant to take bold steps and sign even routine files due to fear of NAB. There is another claim that funds of billions of rupees of the Balochistan government are about to lapse due to their non-utilisation in the aftermath of anti-corruption drive. However, due to absence of data, this claim can’t be independently confirmed.
Was the kicking off of an anti-corruption drive a part of the National Action Plan in Balochistan? There is a general feeling that it has definitely some relevance to it. If true, then it is really good news because actions taken countrywide in the name of NAP are tantamount to the much-needed paradigm shift. Cracking down on militancy and its hotbeds have proven to be hallmark of NAP. So, if this anti-corruption drive is a part of NAP then why is it not being expanded to get the corrupt present in the provincial and federal departments in Balochistan?
A paradigm shift is being witnessed in the development patterns of the province. The additional chief secretary (P&D) was transferred unceremoniously just days before the budget. Reportedly, the infamous development projects proposed by MPAs are also being slashed by half. Still, all the funds allocated for development will be spent through different execution agencies – which are corrupt to the core. No action has been taken against that corruption by NAB and it is highly likely that even in the next fiscal year development projects will be marred by the commission-driven structure of executing agencies.
In this context, the need of the hour is to make this anti-corruption drive result-oriented for the people of Balochistan. It is not hard to understand how it can be achieved. The anti-corruption net should be spread across all the corrupt departments and politicians of not only this government but also previous governments.
Corruption in the federal department present in Balochistan should also be treated with an iron fist and officers of those departments should be treated in the same manner as Mushtaq Raisani. There should also be no protection of any officer or politician due to favouritism.
If the course of the anti-corruption drive is not corrected as per the aforementioned suggestions then it is bound to fail. It will create more problems than it is going to solve and will end up as another bitter example in the anti-corruption history of Pakistan.
The writer is a freelance columnist andeditor of the online newspaper,The Balochistan Point.
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