mansoor akbar kundi
CORRUPTION is a universally comparative phenomenon. There is hardly a country which is 100 per cent corruption-free. Therefore, it can well be measured in ratio or comparative analysis. The organizational setups of countries with lesser ratio of corruption are better off than those with higher levels.
Intentionally and unintentionally, many factors are accountable for corruption. They can be legal, socio-cultural, political and even religious. Based on wider theoretical analysis, corruption permeates the state and societal structure at cost of values (social, political, economic etc), good governance, and trust-building of a nation. Countries with higher ratio of corruption suffer from crisis of political, social and economic developmental nature with deficit of trust between the rulers and the ruled.
However, looking back into history we find that our rulers, power elites and public servants were least involved in financial corruption and nepotism. No matter whatever charges were levied against them for authoritarian or misappropriation of power, the Wiki /Panama leaks or Surry Palace stories were unknown then.
A major example of this is that of Ghulam Mohammad, the third Governor General of Pakistan (1951-54) on whom I once wrote an extensive research article. To many he is known as a legacy of rule and misrule or usurper of democratic power for personal whims. No second opinion about the fact that he being supported by the bureaucratic and military elites misappropriated his authority against democratic norms and principles. His major action against parliamentary spirit was the dissolving of the First Constituent Assembly in October 1954. His action was declared null and void by the Sindh High Court but later on was upheld by the Federal Court forerunner of Supreme Court under Chief Justice Munir.
Nevertheless, no one can prove corruption against him or favouring his kith and kin during his being in office first as Finance Minister or then as Governor General. He had only two kids from his wife Badshah Begum, a housewife who led a very simple life. His daughter Iqbal Begum was married to her cousin and lived in Lahore. His son Inam Mohammad worked in a private firm known as Grieves Cotton at Rs1000 per month, and lived in a rented house not away from the Presidency/Governor General’s House in Karachi. He would visit his father twice a month without protocol. Ghulam Mohammad died in 1955 leaving one house he built in Lahore cantonment.
The same can be said about Iskander Mirza, an Indian Political Service officer keeping his army service intact he did not leave any property. His last days in exile in England were spent in economic hardship with hardly surviving. President Ayub Khan did not leave any ranches or farm houses, but a modest house compared to his status of being C-in-C and President for years.
No matter, what allegations were leveled against Bhutto by his opponents after his being out of power, yet no one could prove any financial corruption. Financial corruption was unknown to rulers, thus with little permeation in society. The civil servants, military personnel, public representatives such as MNAs, Senators, and MPAs were least involved in financial corruption. Sadly with time it became widespread.
The corruption in Pakistani society started after 1977. It rapidly surrounded institutions and public servants with distrust and suspicion around. The demarcation between one being an anti-state or anti-government was narrowed. A person not supportive of military regime was branded as an anti-state. Democracy was restored in 1985 non-party elections but essential pillars of charismatic leadership, party politics, and sense of common man’s welfare weakened. The 1985 elections brought a class of leadership that had little political background. Huge funds were spent in the 1985 elections and those that followed.
Those elected the in 1985 were given huge funds which they largely did not spend in their constituencies. Senate seats became for sale in number of cases. Party tickets were allotted to those who could afford spending huge amounts. The traditional bases of support came from Pirs, landlords, feudals and industrialists. Between 1988 and 1997 the moneyed class which included mafias had made a place in politics and enjoyed power and influence. Many got engaged in print and electronic media industry. They are investing now in higher education institutions and essential state infrastructure adding to their influence, power and status on the basis of their fabulous wealth.
—The writer is Professor of Political Science in IIUI [email protected]