Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Allegations of corruption

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz dismissed the Director General of Pakistan Post Office on allegations of corruption and irregularities. He is accused of installing illegal telephone exchange, opening of accounts, dealing in suspect shares and recruiting illegally. An investigation committee was formed and 8 counts of wrongdoings were proved necessitating action against him. These are certainly very serious allegations and must be attended to. As every corruption is paid by the poor taxpayers, grave injustice might have been done to all Pakistanis but in this scenario the punishment appears too light. On the other hand if the concerned officer is innocent of the charges then he should not have been defamed and punished? Who is responsible for this injustice either way? Can the respected PM mention the law according to which the punishment was awarded or was it just because of his whim or political convenience?

We have gotten used to hearing about incidences in which government servants are transferred on allegations of corruption which never come to court. Usually the trial is held in the media and punishment awarded. In most cases rumors abound that the government is never serious about correcting corruption but the officials who are law abiding can become a nuisance for the masters and are gotten rid off this way. Conducting media trials has become our destructive habit. It has worsened so much that we have exiled most of our top political leadership on allegation of corruption risking even the national political instability. This imparts insecurity and uncertainty in the minds of people as they seem defenseless because they are not given a fair chance to defend themselves. This also fuels rumors about the intentions of such actions suggesting that absolute compliance of the authority is needed more than compliance of law or in other words the word of the person in the position of authority is more sacred than the law and must be followed. The incomplete execution of the process of law gives an opportunity to the accused to declare all this as fake and some form of victimization. This shows the weaknesses of the accountability system we have established in our government set up. Even our premier accountability institution, NAB is not free of allegations of political victimization. Common perception about NAB is that instead of fighting corruption it has become a potent weapon in the hands of the rulers which they use with impunity to inculcate compliance among the political adversaries. These charges are not baseless as many prominent leaders have joined the government after dealing successfully with the dreaded NAB. This gives a very unhealthy message to the people that corruption or disrespect of law is fine but being on the wrong side of the rulers can cause critical harm. With insecure people trying to please their masters we cannot build institutions, so important for any nation.

The avoidance of the complete process of law is usually blamed on its cumbersomeness and speed. This amounts to absolute distrust on our legal set up and its procedures which is not entirely baseless. If there are flaws in our judicial system they should be corrected rather than bypassed. It is the court of law that should differentiate between the corrupt and the innocent instead of the media. Our inability to follow the procedures has many detrimental side effects. The most important is that many guilty get away and innocent made to suffer due to weaknesses in the system. But the worst effect it leaves is that it erodes the sanctity of the written law explaining the lack of respect for law in our society and the domination of feudal system. Respect for law and courts dispensing justice makes nations strong and not their armies. Unjust governments are worse than the cruel ones and this supremacy of law should be actual as well as perceived. Every Pakistani must be presumed innocent until proved otherwise by the court of law and only then we will be able to persecute the guilty while sparing the innocent. For efficient functioning of this system we must improve our judicial system as a priority.

Whenever a government official gets notorious for corruption or inefficiency he is usually transferred from the post as a punishment. Even apparently educated people demand for that. Usually people from influential districts get notorious people transferred to the backward areas and the corrupt officials have a free ride away from the central areas. This practice makes lives of people living there even more miserable. It is incomprehensible what purpose transfers of such officials serve, as they continue their bad practices some other place. There should be no place in Pakistan for the corrupt or the inefficient. It is true that government promises job security to its officials but that does not include security against action if caught indulging in corrupt practices or inefficiency. Corruption of government officials should be punishable according to the law and not by transfers. Every form of corruption is a plain and simple theft and should be dealt as such. It is more harmful to the society than ordinary street thefts which are dealt severely by our police and should be dealt accordingly.

We must stop the culture of semi baked allegations and punishments based on them. Media trials must be stopped. Government officials must be given a clear message that they have to perform their duties well and as long as they continue the good work they would be protected. This protection should not extend to corruption and the corrupt must be punished according to the law. Let us settle it that transfers or retirements are not punishments and should not be resorted to. In this particular case of DG Post Office, the matter should be further investigated and if allegations are found correct, the accused should be tried in a court of law and punished as an ordinary criminal. If the allegations cannot be proved then the department owes an apology to him and people identified who tried to disgrace him for their interests. Let us not forget our religion Islam recommends severe punishments for those who make false allegations as it is a very serious offence.

No comments:

Post a Comment