Pakistan: Tagging the Corrupt

The moral authority of Pakistan Army suffers in public perception in the face of the avarice, greed and ambitions of a few. The corrupt, whoever they are, need to be tagged, says one defense analyst.

Posted on 03/27/16
By Ikram Sehgal | via ViewsWeek
General Pervez Musharraf (r) and General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani's names were often associated indirectly with corruption, greed, unnecessary political arm twisting and indecision.
General Pervez Musharraf (r) and General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s (l) names were often indirectly associated with corruption, greed, unnecessary political arm twisting and indecision.

The quality of the lives of the “great silent majority” has deteriorated substantially even as a privileged few have become rich beyond compare. The disparity between the haves and have-nots has widened substantially, with the percentage of the nation’s poor rising from 23% to 40% the middle class has virtually been wiped out. Seething public anger about the sustained loot of the national treasury over the last 60 years (force-multiplied over the last decade) has made the exercising of fair and ruthless accountability the primary concern in the public perception.  The burgeoning rise of the national debt being directly proportional to the loot has major far-reaching implications for us, our children and their children.   The country has a bleak economic future if the looters are not held accountable.

 

Illegal money in vast quantities has created an exclusive elite with extensive social contacts. Intertwined through marriages, political and business alliances and connections etc, these “untouchables” create a virtual “Gordian knot” to avoid accountability.  Running the govt alternately, this powerful coterie from both sides of the political divide derail any enquiry against political friends and foes alike. On whose instructions did the police official blatantly destroy evidence in Dr Asim Hussain’s case? The “politician’s club” (as well as a “serviceman’s club”) in Pakistan requires those in power to protect those out of power and vice versa!  The vested interest of a vast majority of the nouveau elite makes corruption a protected institution in Pakistan.

 

Those trying to get good governance onto the right track find it impossible to cut through this morass without putting themselves in harm’s way. Those with influence can break the law, bend it or circumvent it at their discretion. Any accountability process can only be credible if it occupies the moral high ground, delivering an even application of justice irrespective of the person’s influence and connections.  Using influence to alter the course of justice should be formally recorded as per the modus operandi in developed countries, public cynosure acting as a deterrent.   Motivated influence targets the investigators, trying to safeguard their jobs (and in some cases their lives) they do not pursue enquiries with much will and/or enthusiasm.  Funnelled into legitimate business, illegal wealth build relationships with politicians, bureaucrats and the military over the years, accountability is delayed, diverted, sidelined etc in a subtle and sophisticated manner. Multi-national criminal gangs pursue joint ventures with foreign companies as a convenient cover and a perfect camouflage of their criminal activities.

 

Equality before the law was the bedrock on which Islam is based, it is unfortunately sadly lacking in practice. To quote a senior law enforcement friend, “it is easy to make a sweeping statement about equal justice for all from the comfort of a drawing room”, unquote.  Both society and religion demand even-handedness, the responsibility for which is clearly incumbent upon the conscience and sense of duty of those meant to implement the law on behalf of society, accountability becoming a fact of life rather than remaining in the realm of fiction. The process in a real (not sham) democracy is transparent and will elicit mass public approval and support, as opposed to the whims and caprices of a dictatorship where the guardians of the law care little about public opinion.

 

The doctrine of necessity is sometimes impossible to avoid in unambiguous circumstances of “clear and present danger” to the existence of the State. While our soldiers are constantly giving the ultimate sacrifice fighting a decade-old insurgency, the country is facing a crisis of “clear and present danger” due to corruption. It would be criminal negligence for the Pakistan Army to stand by and tolerate continuing bad and/or criminal governance. Should we (1) ignore the corrupt violating their responsibilities to the Constitution under the camouflage of democracy or (2) violate the Constitution safeguarding the integrity of the country the corrupt?

 

Madame de Stael said of Napoleon’s coup d’état: “As soon as the moral power of the national representation was destroyed, a legislative body, whatever it might be, meant no more to the military than a crowd of five hundred men, less vigorous and disciplined than a battalion of the same number.” Something on the lines of Chaudhry Shujaat’s “two trucks and a jeep”!  Military intention only goes wrong when those applying it forget that their role is limited, to support technocrat governance sans democracy for a short period and not become an integral part of it under any circumstances.  However because armies of the world are not equipped for conducting governance, they become an occupation force by overstaying their welcome. Soldiers tend to force-multiply the wrongs into a political and administrative mess, becoming part of the problem they came to correct. Combining this with the ambitions and/or greed of a few spells adversity for the country and tarnishes the uniform’s pristine image among the public.

 

It is pathetic to see Musharraf lacking the moral courage to accept responsibility for his actions. All soldiers take an oath to defend the Constitution “even to the peril of their lives,” if the cause is just and their motivation pure, why should they fear their fate if they really believe circumstances forced them to take extra-Constitutional measures? Unless they used their arbitrarily acquired powers to elongate their rule, to enrich themselves, their friends, associates and relations, if their actions were in good faith and without excesses, soldiers can always face up to the consequences of their actions and not try and palm and/or share the responsibility with others.  Or in Musharraf’s case, was it a more selfish motive to avoid being sacked for Kargil?

 

Compromised by the blatant corruption of his brothers, Kayani failed to rid this country of one of the most corrupt persons in the history of Pakistan.  As COAS, CGS, Corps Commander and DG FCNA respectively Gens Musharraf, Aziz and Lt Gens Mahmood and Javed Hassan sent our soldiers to their deaths in Kargil, and then refused to recognize them as their own.  Compare their present luxurious lifestyle to that of our Shaheeds buried unclaimed in shallow graves on the icy, windy slopes of Kargil, dereliction of duty and responsibility towards them is not corruption? Ignoring accountability for Kargil because of past association is no less a disgrace to the uniform as are these “gentlemen”.  No individual person is sacred, the Army as an institution is! The moral authority of the Army suffers in public perception in the face of the avarice, greed and ambitions of a few.  The corrupt, whoever they are, need to be tagged.

The writer is a defense and security analyst.

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