Tag Archives: Media

STRATEGY TO FIGHT CORRUPTION IN PAKISTAN

Ethical Dimensions and Political Expediency

 In my view the biggest hurdle in fighting corruption is the political expediency of the governments. The governments get blackmailed on this account by their MNA / MPA and others to accrue the illegal benefits and get the immunity from prosecution. This is the reason why all the anti corruption mechanisms have failed in Pakistan in the past including the NAB. It is really a fantastic task to ask a political government not to be influenced / pressurized by the corrupt people in the ruling party or its allies however a start can be made in this direction.

The strategy of fighting corruption has little chances of success if it is void of moral and ethical dimensions. Unfortunately the moral values and norm in our society have changed negatively over the past many decades. Money and its accumulation have attained the highest priority as with it everything else can be purchased. This is the reason why the corrupt persons are not now even ashamed of their ill gotten wealth. Any revolutionary party like PTI will have to take up on itself that the accumulation of money should be made an irrelevant and insignificant affair in the society. Once a system of social justice is in place in society whereby everyone is getting his/her due share in jobs, income, social amenities and facilities of life then there should be no need for going after the illegal means to accumulate wealth. After meeting the basic necessities of life all the surplus wealth should belong to those who don’t have it. This is also in consistence with the basic Islamic principles and teachings.

The ethical and moral grooming of all including the public and the state functionaries should go side by side and be demonstrated practically by setting personal examples. Apart from academic teachings in ethics it should form part of our social and official lives. Citizens should be given importance (protocol) in society based on their character, morality and virtues rather than the wealth and power. After all why shouldn’t we give the highest protocols to our teachers / researchers / scientists instead of the bureaucrats, as is being done in many developed countries? Once the corrupt persons know that the government is oblivious to the personal material gains they will not resort to their tactics.  A government should prefer to resign rather than being blackmailed by the corrupt lobbies. It all may sounds unbelievable but is not bizarre. No one has ever tried it in Pakistan. Let us take the lead and at least start treading this difficult path. This has to be done in phases and in slow motion but we must take the initiative if we really want to build a new Pakistan as an Islamic welfare state. Though the last para 12 g of the paper touches this aspect under heading “Education on Ethics” but I propose that this concept should be inbuilt in any future strategy against corruption.

 Tackling White-Collar Crimes

 The second most difficult aspect is to identify, locate and prove the white-collar crimes that are the mainstay of the corrupt activities. Those who indulge in corruption are so clever that they hardly leave any tangible proof of their crime. For example in the award of a government construction contract the applications will be invited, tenders will be filled/opened and contracts will be awarded fully ‘in line’ with the procedures written in the books. The pre-audits and post audit reports will be clear of any discrepancy or irregularity. But a huge sum of public money would have been eaten up the looters. This is because all the settlements, bargains and monetary transactions will be done outside the ambit of the contractual activity. The courts need concrete proofs against the culprits which are normally not available. This is the reason that when a government or its any functionary is labeled as corrupt, the person would say very confidently, “Well no one can become corrupt by pointing finger or through media trial, if you have any proof then go to the court.” They know that their crime will never be proved. This is the reason why people remain in jails / detention for years on corruption charges and after being freed unscathed, claim to be ‘clean, innocent and a victim of political oppression’. The result is that the institutions are ruined, machinery is turned into scrap, people are rendered jobless / homeless, the government exchequer suffers huge financial loss, the national assets are sold out / privatized at throw-away prices, the institutions fear their closure, the government itself gets squeezed in the domestic and foreign debts and the persons responsible say shamelessly, “Go to the courts and prove our corruption.”

As the issue is complex and difficult to prove, it is suggested that some unconventional measures may also be made part of the strategy. A person who is appointed as head of a certain department like PIA, Railways or Pak Steel Mills, he and the other members of the board of directors should be selected on merit. All of them should accept this task as a challenge and their output be measured on the standards of market economy. They should be given a specific period of time, 6 months or 1 year, to show their performance. Following should be taken as indicators of corruption in any institution:

  • If the institution starts showing improvement in its financial position as compared to the previous time period, however small the improvement may be, the performance of the managers should be taken in positive manner.
  • If the financial situation of institution does not show signs of improvement or shows even a downward trend, the management will be considered either incompetent or corrupt
  • If the financial situation slides drastically but the personal assets of the managers increases substantially, the persons will be decidedly declared as corrupt. Apart from other penalties the managers should be liable to make good the loss of institution through their personal resources.

The overriding indicator in all such cases will be the worsening situation of the institution and an ever inflating bank accounts / properties of their custodians.

Writing-off of Loans

 This is one of the biggest sources of corruption in Pakistan. Writing off of loans should be prohibited by making a suitable legislation. Any amount exceeding a certain limit will have to be referred to High Court / Supreme Court before it could be condoned. The only way out for the defaulters of hefty loans should be confiscation selling out of their property and / or a jail term till they refund the amount. All avenues of funneling out public money should be blocked vigorously.

Anti-Corruption Courts

 Any kind of special courts tend to be a hurdle in true dispensation of justice. They can be misused as well. Efforts should be made to keep the anti-corruption courts within the mainstream of the justice system (which otherwise needs a complete overhauling).

Vigilance and Monitoring Teams

 The media is playing a dynamic role in exposing the malpractices in the society. A large number of Suo Moto actions by the courts have been taken on the news run on electronic media. These media reports have proved very effective in waking up the administrative machinery from their deep slumber to take notice on various matters which would otherwise have gone into oblivion. Media has gathered in itself the role of a watchdog, an intelligence agency and the political opposition and must be utilized to the full benefit of society. It is recommended that the vigilance and monitoring teams comprising civil society members, media persons, welfare organizations and persons of good repute may be formed at district level to keep an eye on the ongoing government / semi-government projects, the activities of the government departments and also on social evils / crimes. To start with they may not be necessarily equipped with magisterial powers to arrest but their reports must be channeled up to appropriate forum for an immediate action. The mere presence of such teams with official authority and mandate will be an effective deterrence for the law breakers.

Downsizing the Government Departments

 While downsizing the government departments, no employee should be dismissed / retired from the service as a rule. The role of the government is to create / provide jobs and not to render the people jobless. The surplus employees should be adjusted elsewhere by creating productive slots.

Encroachment and ‘Kachi Abadi’

 Whereas all other encroachments may be dealt with ruthlessly, the Kachi Abadis that have appeared on government lands over a period of time need different approach. It is recommended that Kachi Abadis may be converted in to livable communities at the same location. This will require much less funds as compared to shifting and relocating the population somewhere else.

 Online Dealing

 Apart from one-window operation as a measure to reduce corruption, it is recommended that efforts should be made to eliminate the person-to-person contact altogether while dealing with government departments / paying taxes etc. This has been effectively done in the developed countries where people sparingly visit the government offices that too on unavoidable issues only. The e-governance and online technology has revolutionized the dealings and should be applied to our benefit. A large number of taxes and government revenues can be designed in such a manner that they are collected indirectly without a citizen physically going to the government officials. For example we can calculate the Moto Vehicle Tax and Toll Tax and include in the fuel charges so that all the vehicle owners ‘pay it inadvertently’ without visiting the post offices or being stopped at the Toll Plazas. Many other innovations can be devised in the same manner. This will not only reduce the chances of corruption but will also curtail the movement on roads and rush in the public offices, thus economizing on time, fuel and effort.

Exploring Chinese Model

China has very effectively curtailed the menace of corruption since 1948. We ought to study the mechanism as how Chinese leadership was able to eliminate corruption particularly from the ranks and files of the Communist Party and still was able to run the country without any blackmailing. We should then tailor those measures to suit our peculiar environment. The underlying idea would be to initiate the battle against corruption from members of the ruling political party in Pakistan and then spreading it in the spheres of bureaucracy, other politicians and the society as a whole. Nothing will success if it is void of sincerity and a strong will to accomplish this uphill task.

Written by

Akhtar Malik

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It is Surprising that PML-N Government Considers GEO Group and ISI at Par

Role of PML-N Government to Sponsor GEO TV Channel

Is this govt of the Noon hanging on our heads, really the govt of people of Pakistan? I am sure it is not. A leader, a party or a govt who cannot assess the importance of an institution of national defense (ISI) vis a vis a private media group and equates them to be at par, have no right to sit on treasury benches and decide the fate of 1900 million Pakistanis. It is dangerous and a risk for national security. 

A PML-N leader Uzma Bukhari explains the government stance on Geo/ ISI controversy. Please see this video link..

http://videos.arynews.tv/uzma-bukhari-says-geo-isi-equal-government/

History of Soft Revolutions in Pakistan

 
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Over the past few decades the collective wisdom of the masses in Pakistan has seemingly decided in favor of a soft change instead of a bloody and violent revolution. Though it is a slow process but is likely to have deeper and more sustained effect on the society. Despite the efforts of the forces of status quo to keep the social and political indolence in place, the catalysts of change are actively heading forward with a steady pace.
The First Soft Revolution came in the shape of Freedom of Media. Media, both print and electronic, had started its efforts to break the shackles of the state restrictions during the late 1990s. Interestingly it was during the reign of a military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharaf, that the media acquired its optimum freedom. Since then media has played a vital role in creating awareness in society, analyzing the political situation, exposing the social evils of corruption, lawlessness, favoritism, apathy of the government officials and molding the public opinion in favor of a progressive, peaceful and a just social system. Though the powerful political mafia, who wants to keep the masses ignorant, is all out to coerce, intimidate and pressurize the media to get them in their favor, the media is showing commendable resilience and steadfastness in achieving its objectives. With the passage of time media is likely to be more vibrant, impartial and effective in transforming the society in to a better shape.
The Second Soft Revolution occurred in the Restoration of Independent Judiciary. The incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan, though one time a beneficiary of Gen Pervez Musharaf’s PCO and a supporter of his unconstitutional rule, asserted himself in 2006-07 by taking a pragmatic stand on issues like Steel Mill, missing persons and sugar scandal etc. His removal from the apex appointment of Chief Justice Supreme Court by Gen Pervez Musharaf led to a vigorous movement by the legal fraternity. Soon this movement swelled beyond proportions in which various political forces also joined. Their aim was to remove the President and restore the dysfunctional chief justice, who was then being seen as a symbol of independence of judiciary and justice at national level. The enforcement of emergency, suspension of constitution and arrest of judges by Gen Pervez Musharaf on 3 Nov 2007 proved as last nail in the coffin of his rule. Movement for restoration of judiciary became a popular national movement that ultimately achieved its objective when the dysfunctional chief justice along with his other companions was restored in March 2009.
Since its restoration the superior judiciary has, by and large, played its role effectively. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a sitting government was dealt with according to law, whereby even Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had to go home for not obeying the Supreme Court orders. An independent judiciary is entirely a new phenomenon in social and political environment of Pakistan, where the powers-that-be are finding it difficult to come to terms with this change. This was the reason why a large number of court orders were never implemented by the government. Despite all the limitations and handicaps, the independent judiciary is coming up well. Like media, the judiciary is also not likely to forfeit its hard earned freedom in coming days. An impartial and independent judiciary is crucial to the sustainability of democracy and progress and prosperity of the country, and it is really a big achievement.
The Third Soft Revolution that is making its headway is the Electoral Reforms Process. Since democracy is the only acceptable political system in today’s world, the elections play a pivotal role in shaping the political and social structure of a country. If the electoral system is faulty, corrupt, tilted in favor of the people with nuisance values and does not provide a level field to all the contesters- as is the case in Pakistan for the past six decades- the result will be total chaos, confusion and destruction. Without reforming the electoral system the same breed of corrupt politicians will keep coming to power again and again and the country will not see any hope of progress.
Imran Khan of PTI was the first politician in the present times to kindle this ray of hope to the hapless people of Pakistan. He provided an opportunity to the people to elect an alternate leadership that would replace the custodians of present rotten system, who are occupying the citadels of power. Dr. Tahir ul Qadri of Minhaj ul Quran International provided further impetus to this movement by launching a long march and a sit-in in Islamabad in favor of electoral reforms. Though his efforts met vehement resistance from the forces of status quo, he has been able to make deep impression in the minds of people. The people now stand well educated about various provisions of the constitution and have better knowledge about their own rights and the obligations of those who are voted to power. There is a general craving in the public for conducting meaningful elections. They do not want to do this exercise just for the sake of it and as a ‘business as usual’. That is the reason that despite intense defiance from the ruling and opposition elite, the Election Commission and Supreme Court are being obliged to comply with the aspirations of the people. However this revolution is still in progress and will see its culmination, if the next elections are conducted after requisite reforms.
Akhtar Malik
14 March 2013