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January 15, 2021

Legitimising corruption

Opinion

January 15, 2021


“History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.” – Douglas MacArthur

During an interview, Prime Minister Imran Khan was asked about the lack of relevance of Rs220 million in the context of corruption, probably an attempt to build a case against the government’s drive to root out the scourge from society and also punish those who had indulged in this crime in the past. Such casual mention of the thievery of the state exchequer almost seems to be an effort to legitimise the very concept of loot and plunder.

This reminds me of a similar effort some time ago, made by the PML-N and the PPP, by proposing multiple self-serving amendments in the FATF bill. One such amendment was proposed in Section 4, Ordinance XV111 of 1999 which reads thus: “The provisions of this Act shall not apply to transactions and persons related thereto if the subject matter thereof and/or loss to the Federal Government or a Provincial Government, as the case may be, is less than Rupees One Billion and shall not apply to, (among other issues,) offenses under Money Laundering Act, 2010”.

This amendment, if incorporated, would have directly benefited all those implicated in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case, Shahbaz Sharif (T T case), Asif Ali Zardari (false accounts case), Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, Khawaja Asif (assets case), Rana Sanaullah, Faryal Talpur and all the children of Shahbaz Sharif. It was one of the 34 amendments proposed jointly by the two parties in an attempt to blackmail the government in the FATF-related legislation to have their tribe exonerated from most of the cases registered against them.

The idea of winning reprieve from corruption is not new. It is as old as the perpetration of crime itself. The facts contained in the recent interview of the head of Broadsheet throws further light on the composition of this vast corruption network and how rulers have been subjected to incentives and coercion alike by the corrupt to win reprieve for their heinous acts. Virtually no one in the power elite escapes the indictment. In fact, the list is a sad reflection of the wicked ruling elite holding the state hostage.

Ever since the induction of the PTI government and its repeated reiteration to ensure accountability of all individuals and institutions, the opposition has tried a variety of tricks to escape the dragnet of justice. Despite the serious challenges that have been thrown at the government, Prime Minister Khan has refused to surrender before their vicious onslaught. Booing, bickering, name-calling, agitation, rallies, the threat of tendering resignations from the assemblies to block the elections to the Upper House, staging a march on the capital – nothing has been able to dent his resolve to eliminate the scourge of corruption from the country.

The opposition agitation is not based on principles. The PDM is a disparate conglomerate reflecting conflicting conveniences. The constituent parties proclaim that they don’t recognise the sitting assemblies, but they are eager to contest the forthcoming by-elections. They consider the Senate illegitimate, but will not forfeit the opportunity of induction into the august house. They question the legitimacy of the assemblies, but Fazlur Rehman was a candidate for the office of the president for which the same assemblies constituted the electorate. They allege the government sold out Kashmir, but the JUI-F chief did nothing for the cause of the captive people of the valley for over a decade when he headed the Kashmir Committee.

It is a fact that the wild proclamations of the opposition don’t have even a semblance of sincerity. These proclamations are meant to rouse raw emotions to serve their political cause while their actions reflect their real intent and purpose. That is why the state has been gradually rendered weak, thus failing to stamp its freedom from inimical external pressures. Instead, it has become economically captive in the hands of these powers which (try to) manipulate it to serve their strategic interests. This downward trajectory has always blocked every genuine effort to change the course.

Now that Prime Minister Khan has taken the initiative, crafty manipulations are afoot to thwart the prospect of national resurgence. In the process, it should not be forgotten that every little setback provides further boost to his resolve and commitment to cleanse the country of these parasites which have bloodied and badgered it with impunity. This crass effort to diminish the gravity of corruption should be robustly thwarted as its intended legitimisation would imperil the fate of the country.

The writer is the special assistant to the PM on information, a political and security strategist, and the founder of the Regional Peace Institute.

Twitter: @RaoofHasan