Eye of the beholder

It is said that sight in many ways is the most important of the five senses. But it is also one that can quite easily be deceived. All of us are familiar with optical illusions used by magicians as forms of innocent entertainment – to trick the eye into seeing something that is not real or into not seeing something which is really there. However, when top politicians apparently fail to see reality, or choose to live in a realm of fantasy, things become more serious. It is incredible that the prime minister, speaking to the media recently, said that there was no corruption in his government and that allegations on this count were based merely on “wrong perceptions”. Mr Gilani would do well to ponder why so many “perceptions” of this kind exist and whether they can all be unfounded. As for his suggestion that anyone with evidence move the courts, the fact is that cases are already being heard with some of the testimony given hardly painting a picture of a pristine government dedicated to honest rule.

The prime minister should also study surveys showing public opinion and the reports that Pakistan could be well on its way to achieving the ignominious position of the world’s most corrupt country. The anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, in its latest Corruption Perception Index, has shown Pakistan ranking as the 34th most corrupt country among 178 countries. Last year we were 42nd on the index – that is seven ranks slipped within a year. TI has said that it has documented corruption totalling Rs300 billion, but that NAB has failed to move on this.

The Rental Power Projects and the Pakistan Steel Mills are among the examples cited and there are many more. Unbridled corruption has been directly linked to the phenomenal rise in the prices of food commodities which has wreaked havoc on families and households. Given that these discussions have circulated in the public sphere for years, that in Islamabad virtually every one has his own tale to tell of official corruption, and that newspapers have been filled with stories of scams involving huge amounts, it is impossible to believe the PM is not aware of what is happening. The shenanigans we have seen at NAB are further evidence of a desire to cover up facts. What is disturbing is the refusal at the highest levels to see what is wrong. This means that there can be no effort to correct matters and that instead things will continue to drift, as they have for long, with no attempt to check wrongdoing in government ministries and in public-sector institutions where it is thought to be rampant –  Thenews