Claiming that he was not condoning corruption, my friend Aitzaz Ahsan, among the best legal brains in the country, did just that, fulminating in the Senate as to why Dr Asim Hussain had been detained by Rangers on charges of “terror financing” when the poor innocent soul was just giving medical aid, rest and recreation for militants injured while killing Karachi’s citizens. Khurshid Shah has gone hoarse supporting PPP stalwarts convicted with reason by an Accountability Court. From time to time PPP’s Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah apologetically laments about FIA and Rangers targetting the corrupt in Sindh even while “working under his control”. Almost in the same breath, he praises the Rangers to high Heaven for restoring peace in Karachi. Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani warned darkly that “safeguards against military rule were eroding”.
Not to be outdone, Senator Dr Farhatullah Babar sponsored a resolution to give the Senate authority to subject the “suo moto” cases in the Supreme Court (SC) to revision. And we all know the credibility of a Senate elected by a most corrupt indirect process! Farhatullah Babar is incongruously honest despite being close to Zardari, it was pathetic seeing him trying to justify what is morally wrong even though creativity helps you justify why it’s morally “permissible” to do wrong.
One may never fully discover the extent of Zardari’s misdemeanors and/or his hidden assets. The inexact laws of evidence in Pakistan, coupled with perennial deception and doublespeak, has allowed him a convenient grey area to literally get away with murder. Breaking the rules made Zardari powerful, he was fortunate to have a master-corrupter like consummate-bureaucrat Salman Faruqi (now incongruously Federal Ombudsman) advising the finessing of bureaucratic norms to bend and/or break the rules at will to make life profitable. Take the analogy about suspicious entries in the accounting ledgers. Accountants may have opposite views, one takes the violation seriously, while the other may not, holding that you can break the rules “now and then” if necessary.” By justifying wrongdoing, is it a wonder which accountant eventually becomes more powerful?
One of the more unbelievable headlines in the recent past says it all, “PPP says mixing graft with terror will hurt democracy”. Politicians seldom mean what they say and say very little about what they actually mean. Deadset against accountability of any kind, the practitioners of our “democracy” want us to condone corruption as a necessary component of the Constitution to protect democracy, notwithstanding the links between corruption and terrorism through the mutual nexus of organized crime. The psyche that Zardari has instilled into the PPP hierarchy is the problem, having become so used to being corrupt they now believe it is the right thing to do, and all in the name of democracy.
Most elected politicians have more than average IQs, unfortunately higher IQs do not necessary go with moral standards, most of the time in Pakistan they are inversely proportional. Smart people have the potential to be more corrupt. Most of the politicians pocketing millions using unfair means are smart people. Some are more willing than others to commit graft on a large scale. Those with low IQs confine themselves to corruption on a minuscule scale. Having more imagination than those who are honest, the corrupt are certainly more creative than those into petty thieving. The more creative you are the easier it is to justify behaving in a dishonest manner. The ability of people to behave dishonestly is directly proportional to their capability to be corrupt, unfortunately they confuse this with also being moral.
Those who claim loudly about being the very epitome of probity are more often than not the greatest perpetrators of evil, corruption has subverted our society to such an extent that the cloak of society itself gives them blanket protection. What fashion model Ayyan Ali does for a living i.e. money-laundering and tax evasion being only the tip of the iceberg, is well known. The influence of her rich and powerful mentors have ensured that what she was involved in remains legally under wraps.
Cowardice among the corrupt only one surfaces when you have acquired enough money and assets, and fear losing them. That you may not enjoy your ill-gotten gains terrifies the corrupt, sometimes driving them to nervous breakdown. Social and situational forces rather than character strongly influence bad behaviour. Just thinking about breaking a rule can change the way we behave. That we can defend our actions, for better and for worse, is the reality about modern morals.
Whenever you take a risk and it works, your adrenaline goes up. Successful gambles primes the brain for further risk taking. The greater the confidence, the bigger the risks. The winners becoming more bold with more wins, the cycle goes on. One may be born with a crude sense of right and wrong, this inherent culture shapes and refines our moral judgment. We think of ourselves as good and honest citizens despite daily acts of cheating, fraud, lying, or otherwise breaking the rules. Unethical behavior becomes more acceptable if it serves other people, a cause, or a principle.
There is no universal sense of fairness for all but a parochial one when it comes to abiding by rules, some violations seem more legitimate than others. The magnificent party of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto has sunk to its lowest depths under Zardari. The honest few are virtually social outcasts within PPP, available for use by Zardari when necessary. They have to go along or be left out in the cold. Moral persons like Senator Raza Rabbani, etc tend to qualm their conscience talking about the “erosion of the Constitution”. Don’t ask why Rabbani unfortunately never targets the beneficiaries of corrupt within his own party to mend their rays.
Musharraf’s NRO legitimized the culture of corruption, subsequently the State was being gradually converted into a criminal entity until the creeping mature of the “Raheel Sharif Doctrine” started to take effect. Concrete steps are being finally taken to target the elite controlling “terror financing”, the Federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan tasking the FIA to coordinate with SECP and SBP in going after organised crime. This put the elite at risk in a corrupt system.
Honesty and integrity is a zero-sum game that will not spare violation thereof by anyone, whoever and whatever he (or she) may be. The “Raheel Doctrine” is clear and unambiguous as it should be to save Pakistan from anarchy. Pursuing that “Selection and Maintenance of Aim” diligently has made Raheel Sharif far popular than any politician in Pakistan.
The writer is a leading defense and political analyst of Pakistan. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org