The road to riches?

With legislators, public representatives, demanding immunity from accountability, what can FIA or NAB do?

Wajahat Latif September 22, 2010

Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) is the foremost anti-corruption watchdog in the world today.  Every year, TI publishes a Corruption Perception Index (CPI) worked out on the basis of scientific surveys and lists different countries for corruption and rent seeking.

Last year, it surveyed 180 countries and listed Pakistan (2.4 points out of 10) at 139; more corrupt than 138 countries assessed. India was at 84 whilst New Zealand was at number one, making it the least corrupt.

The ratings are in keeping with the perception all over the world of Pakistan being a corrupt country. Now, in the face of the flood, the world wishes to help but tends to pull back for fear of corruption. The prime minister himself says that only 20 per cent of flood relief aid has come to the government; the remaining 80 per cent has gone to non-governmental entities. Domestic donations and aid from Pakistanis abroad seem to avoid the government, trusting, for example, the army instead.

The government tolerates corruption because it is habitually corrupt itself. With legislators, the so-called public representatives who sit in the National Assembly, demanding immunity from accountability, what can the FIA or the NAB do?

The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) has just published a report telling us that the average worth of an MNA in 2008-09 was Rs80.9 million, up from Rs73.9 million a year ago, and Rs39.5 million two years ago. Pildat’s analysis is based on the asset declaration of MNAs filed with the Election Commission and notified by the government annually. Pointing out the defective method of declarations that hampered analysis, the body admits that they have not verified the figures. Nevertheless, the report is revealing.

The richest MNAs are Mehboobullah Jan from the PPP in Kohistan with assets worth Rs3.288 billion; Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from the PML-N has assets worth Rs1.627 billion; Jahangir Khan Tareen from the PML-F with Rs1.096 billion; Saeed Ahmed Zafar with Rs1.030 billion and Nuzhat Sadiq with Rs912.81 million.

Whereas Kohistan seems an unlikely place for so much wealth, there could be an error about Saeed Ahmad Zafar. He has also been mentioned in the list of five poorest MNAs with assets in minus.

Frankly speaking, the mention of Amin Fahim as being one of the five poorest members of parliament comes as quite a surprise. Another disappointment comes from PML-N MNA Khawaja Mohammad Asif who has not declared his assets in 2008-09. Naturally, those who made the declarations deserve credit. And on the same note, what about the president?  What about senior bureaucrats and generals?  What about the judiciary?  The way things are going, I hope answers to these questions will come soon.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2010.


Meekal Ahmed | 11 years ago | Reply The reported figures are fictional, even if the trend is accurate. After all, they have to keep ahead of inflation too! The data are not audited. Most of the loot is put away abroad and off-shore. It is not reported. The FBR should correlate these data with income tax paid -- if any. Then they should select a random sample for detailed scrutiny and audit. Lets not have another political witch-hunt. A RANDOM sample is what is needed.
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