Where corruption is a norm

Published: March 21, 2019
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Given the decade-long style of governance of the PPP, the decision to induct Faryal Talpur and Sharjeel Inam Memon as members of the Sindh Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is neither surprising nor shocking. It doesn’t matter at all if they are facing or being tried on any corruption charges. They are the elected representatives and have the right to certain privileges even if they are contrary to social norms or rule of law. It would also be incorrect to assume that Sharjeel Memon’s decision to quit PAC was based on some moral grounds only two days after he was inducted into it.

Corruption in Pakistan is not something to be despised or to be shied away from. It has lately evolved into a socio-political value system and has now become integral to the style of governance. Efforts to encourage the corruption, especially among the elected representatives started in early 1980s when the military regime of General Ziaul Haq decided to place development funds at the disposal of the members of assemblies. General Musharraf went a step ahead and institutionalized corruption by introducing clauses like plea bargain and voluntary return of money into the national accountability laws. Another move to further institutionalise corruption came in the shape of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) which Musharraf introduced as part of a political deal he had reached with Benazir Bhutto. The NRO had already caused unprecedented damage to the national polity before it was thrown out by the Supreme Court as ab initio. But the menace of plea bargain and voluntary return of money continue to infest society with the evil of corruption despite serious reservations expressed time and again by the superior judiciary.

However, it is a unique but uglier face of democracy in Pakistan where the legislative organs of the state are willing to go any width and length to defend corruption and glorify the corrupt and criminal.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2019.

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