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December 4, 2020

Fixing the system

Editorial

 
December 4, 2020

Getting rid of bad governance, mismanagement and corruption would obviously be a huge service to our country. The question is: are we truly committed to this fight? What happens when stories of corruption and mismanagement start coming in but instead of dealing with them, the government resorts to targeting the messenger. As Shahzeb Khanzada has raised time and again on his show on Geo TV, many questions remain unanswered in a long and growing list of mismanaged affairs of governance. One of them is the matter of LNG purchase. It appears that a loss of Rs122.5 billion was caused to the country through the purchase of LNG at rates much higher than those that were available earlier in the year.

This is obviously not sustainable for a nation which badly needs all the resources it can gather. There's also the question of who exactly is responsible, who is providing incorrect information to the prime minister and who benefits from the mismanagement and incompetence that we have seen. These questions need to be answered if the real culprits are to be identified. So far, this has not happened. Nadeem Babar, special assistant to the PM, and Minister Omar Ayub continue to provide unverified information that is in effect not based on facts. In fact, as per Khanzada's investigations, there is enough evidence that points to the fact that the delays in LNG purchase did indeed lead to huge losses for the country. A further investigation at the official level is no doubt required.

Which brings us to the matter of how the government reacts to such questions. Whereas we would like there to be equity and fair play in the treatment of political actors, no matter to which party they belong, we have not seen that play out practically. Whether this be the accountability drive or matters concerning TV appearances of politicians, we do hope that going forward there is one rule that all are required to follow. Pakistan absolutely must see corruption or mismanagement -- past and present -- properly and fairly investigated. In this, investigative journalism plays a large part and there is a need to ensure that journalists' professionalism is not called in question when they are merely doing what their jobs dictate. Over the past few months, there have been increasing instances of journalists being called partisan just for reports and stories they have published or broadcast. The only way to reach the truth is to allow journalists to carry out the investigations and to use the same standards in all cases. Governments -- past, present and future -- must understand that their job is not to shoot the messenger but to fix the broken system the message is highlighting.