Asghar Ali Shad
ALMOST the whole world agrees that corruption, be it financial or any other kind, is a menace to any society. There is no doubt that if injustice goes too far in any society, it is only natural that problems will arise for that society. Probably this is the reason that despite the desire and efforts of the government and the people in Pakistan, people face difficulties at every step in getting justice. It is also noteworthy that in Pakistan like other Third World countries, everyone demands justice and accountability. But at the same time, he wants everyone except his own caste and close relatives to be held accountable. Justice Javed Iqbal, the current chairman of the National Accountability Bureau, had also announced a zero tolerance and self-accountability policy to eradicate corruption in the NAB and without any pressure, he vowed to arrest the looters and bring them to justice in accordance with the merit, evidence and the law. It may be recalled that since his appointment, he has introduced many reforms to further improve the performance of NAB. That’s why PILDAT reports that public confidence in the NAB is 42%. Other investigative agencies, including the police, account for 30%. Transparency International, World Economic Forum, PILDAT and Mashal Pakistan have also praised the performance of NAB many times. In this case, it should be borne in mind that although the performance of this institution has been very good so far, but it cannot be considered completely enviable in any way and there is a lot of room for improvement.
In this regard, neutral observers have expressed the view that the issues of Malam Jabba, Helicopter and BRT Peshawar are such that they could not be given due attention. As a result, a large section of critics have rightly demanded that more attention be paid to this so as to send a clear message that the NAB works above political likes and dislikes. Reviewing the overall situation, serious quarters have expressed the view that even the Supreme Court has not found the performance of the NAB and other related agencies satisfactory and has raised many questions in this regard. According to observers, corruption may have been present at every level in the world to some extent, but it should be called the misfortune of South Asia that financial corruption in the Indo-Pak subcontinent has largely become norm. The latest report from Transparency International revealed that India has highest rate of bribery in Asia. The results of the survey released by Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) show that India has the highest rate of people using personal connections to access public services. Countries included in the survey include Indonesia, Taiwan, Maldives, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines, Japan, Nepal, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Mongolia, China, South Korea, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The report noted that “slow and complicated bureaucratic process, unnecessary red tape and unclear regulatory frameworks force citizens to seek out alternate solutions to access basic services through networks of familiarity and petty corruption [in India].”The country has a bribery rate of 39% while 46% people use familiarity to get access to services, it said, adding that 50% of those surveyed revealed they paid bribes because they were asked to. Thirty-two per cent of people said they used connections because they would not have gotten the same service otherwise. Transparency International recommended that the Indian government should “streamline administrative processes for public services, implement preventative measures to combat bribery and nepotism and invest in user-friendly online platforms to deliver essential public services quickly and effectively”. The GCB-Asia, which surveyed people from 17 countries in the region, found that nearly one in three people believed that corruption was a big problem in India. Not only was corruption rampant, 38% of surveyed people also believed that corruption had increased in their country in the last 12 months. “Last year, one in five citizens who had access to government services such as health care and education paid bribe,” the report said. While more than one in five people used personal contacts, “It is worth mentioning here that in the last few years, the incidence of rape against women has increased alarmingly across India. The international media has acknowledged this situation more than once and has been saying that it would not be out of place to call “Delhi” the ‘Rape Capital’. In this regard, it is also noteworthy that former President of the Indian Congress Rahul Gandhi has more than once clarified this “identity” of India. However, it would not be unreasonable to say this as a final word that India is at the forefront of financial corruption. In this regard, although the footsteps of Pakistan are not very clear, it should be noted that the NAB is working very fast to eradicate the scourge of corruption. It is a different matter that no significant results have been achieved so far. It is to be hoped that the present government and all other stakeholders will play their due role in this regard so that Pakistan and its national institutions can be more receptive to the service of nations and the challenges to national unity and national security and the country’s economy can be better addressed.
—The writer is a former Research Fellow in Islamabad Policy Research Institute and Researcher in Centre for South Asian Studies, Punjab University Lahore.