That is Rs8.5 trillion – the estimated amount embezzled over five years of PPP rule. Here’s Dr Robert Klitgaard’s world-famous formula: Discretionary powers minus accountability is equal to corruption (Dr Klitgaard was the president of Claremont Graduate University and is known as the international anti-corruption guru).
The essence of the formula is that wherever public officials, elected or appointed, have discretionary powers and the system lacks accountability there will be corruption – be it America, Japan, South Korea or Pakistan.
Rs8.5 trillion may sound large but translates into a mere 8.5 percent of the Rs100 trillion worth of GDP produced by Pakistanis over those five years of PPP rule. Rs8.5 trillion also means that each Pakistani man, woman and child was robbed of a hefty Rs50,000. Rs8.5 trillion also means that each and every Pakistani family was robbed of a hefty Rs350,000.
We already have a whole host of anti-corruption legislation including the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947, the Public Representatives Disqualification Act 1949, the Elected Bodies Disqualification Ordinance 1958, Anti-Corruption Establishment Rules 1985, the Ehtesab Act of 1997, Auditor-General’s Ordinance 2001 and the National Accountability Ordinance 2010.
We already have a whole host of anti-corruption institutions including the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Anti-Corruption Establishments in all four provinces, an entire network of ombudsmen plus the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission.
In 2014, the National Accountability Bureau received a total of 18,818 complaints. In 2014, the National Accountability Bureau authorised 887 inquiries. In 2014, the National Accountability Bureau filed 819 cases. In 2014, our accountability courts convicted a total of 44.
In 2014, the conviction rate at the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau of Singapore was 95 percent. Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has a conviction rate of 85 percent. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has a conviction rate of 80 percent. Maharashtra’s anti-corruption bureau has a conviction rate of 30 percent.
Please mark my words: Our entire anti-corruption infrastructure will not be able to nab Dr Asim Hussain, not necessarily the person but the phenomenon. The reason: Our entire anti-corruption infrastructure is designed and structured to protect corruption. Don’t ever forget what Frederic Bastiat, the classical French author, said: “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
In 2008, the beginning of the Zardari era, our public debt stood at Rs6 trillion. By 2013, we had taken on additional debt of Rs8 trillion to hit the Rs14 trillion mark. Intriguingly, the amount of additional debt taken almost equals the amount lost to corruption. What that means is that in absence of corruption we need not take additional debt.
The latest GHQ-led accountability drive is about to enter the Land of Five Rivers. In all probability, the latest GHQ-led accountability drive is not sustainable – because of structural and design flaws – over the medium to long-term. The most probable consequence: wholesale nation-wide disappointment.
When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken – Benjamin DisraeliThe writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.
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