Lessons to learn

Pakistanis have become accustomed to the rather depressing listing of corruption brought out by Transparency International each year. This year is no different, with Pakistan, as predicted, sliding to 34th place from its previous position of 42nd on an index topped by Somalia. The report however offers some important lessons, to those astute enough to pick up on them. One of these has been the remarkable progress of Bangladesh – a nation ranked the world’s most corrupt country by TI in 2001, 2002 and 2003. This time it ranks at 39 – well below Pakistan. Besides other benefits of this, it has also seen a growth in GDP to five per cent, quite significantly better than Pakistan’s 2.4.As so many studies have shown, the dividends of fighting corruption are many. Given the situation Pakistan finds itself in, this could literally be a matter of its survival. Corruption is not just about money going into pockets but about the manner in which a state is run, the quality of governance, the viability of the economy and the perceptions of people. The stirring example of a country we are familiar with, and which faces many of the problems that we face in terms of development issues and political instability, should inspire us to do a lot more. We need to assess how Dhaka went about the task of weeding out corruption. There is no shame in learning from others. What would be shameful is to do nothing at all.

There are other countries too that have made progress. Chile, Ecuador, Macedonia, Kuwait and Qatar count among them, according to the TI report. We need to ask ourselves if we, in anyway, are less capable than these countries. Why can’t we do more to tackle corruption and the decay that goes with it? The rotten smell of it surrounds more and more places in our country – even though leaders who float in their balloons of make-belief pretend not to scent it. We have learned to accept corruption as something we cannot escape from. Many of us pay petty bribes to get our work done; when we do so we fall in with the system. Of course citizens cannot be blamed for this. Alone they cannot fight a monster that has grown and grown. But collectively we need more groups to come forward, to lay out suggestions and to demand that the will be found to tackle a sickness that has already destroyed much of our society and state. Other nations have found the will to fight back. We must do the same – Thenews