Tuesday April 23, 2024

Interior corruption

It is a concern how the federal Interior Ministry, the pinnacle of Pakistani domestic security, is w

By Ahmed Quraishi
July 26, 2012
It is a concern how the federal Interior Ministry, the pinnacle of Pakistani domestic security, is wracked by unprecedented corruption under an elected democratic government. The range of recent evidences is breathtaking. Consider how the US military security contractor DynCorp reportedly paid bribes to senior interior officials [one of whom was arrested in late 2009] to allow sophisticated weapons into the country to be used by a private militia trained by the company to go hunting for ‘terrorists’ across Pakistan. Between 200 to 400 Pakistanis received military-level training at a secret location when the project was busted.
More recently, senior ministry officials allegedly sent a ‘fake’ letter to the United Nations to extend the service of several Pakistani police officers in the UN peacekeeping missions in exchange for a share in UN payments. The letter was a fake because it was not endorsed by the government. And, now, the icing on the cake. As a British tabloid reports with what appears to be credible evidence, we have someone from Nadra, the secure depository of data on Pakistani citizens, involved in selling seats in the Pakistani Olympic delegation to buyers who want to enter the UK. This case is a double shame considering that, for five years, the Pakistani Interior Ministry was run by a British citizen. The British tabloid missed this juicy detail.
Of course, we will find politicians a common factor in all of this. The range, scale and impunity for corruption under the incumbent democratically-elected coalition government is unprecedented even by Pakistani standards. Today, corruption in Pakistan is no longer a governance issue. It is a national security issue contributing to the slow meltdown of the Pakistani state.
Anyone who doubts this should look at a fresh case study: Syria. Corruption by a rotten ruling elite legitimised massive corruption in that country, where you could buy the highest officials in the government or military relatively cheap. This is coming handy now when enemies of the state are targeting the country.
While Pakistan has an impressive nuclear arsenal and capability, the rotten ruling elite is driving the nation down, fast. Security is increasingly diminishing outside major cities, lethally armed wings of chaotic political parties challenge the state at will, and the nation’s largest economic hub and its residents is hostage to three violent political parties fighting over turf and extortion money. I will not mention the blunt foreign meddling in the country because this interference continues thanks to the compromised and corrupt ruling elite.
The national security thinking has to change. There is a slow exodus from Pakistan. Failed politicians are doing it and anyone else who can. Pakistani assets are flying out fast. Those who rule the county have little stake left in it except maybe to claim their share of corrupt money.
We have reached the stage where the viability of the Pakistani state as home that can provide security and good life to its citizens is severely challenged. The state has to be put on the right track through harsh reform and tough accountability. We need stability for the next five to ten years any way it can be done.
The Pakistani intelligentsia needs to wake up. Instead of wasting time on non-issues, like discussing civil-military relations and other inconsequential constitutional debates, they should recognise how political failure is making life difficult in this country for them and their children.
It’s time we recognise this failure and hold those responsible to task instead of enjoy watching them play the nation on the increasingly comical political talk shows every night.