Finding a cure for corruption fever

There is bad news for the people who want to see Pakistan climbing on Transparency International’s list of the world’s most corrupt nations, Mr Right said. Inspired by the health authorities’ fight against Dengue virus, the interior ministry has launched a plan to improve the health of its various departments by catching ‘mosquitoes’ spreading ‘corruption fever’ in public organisations.

By Najmul Hasan Rizvi

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Published: Thu 18 Nov 2010, 10:40 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 10:28 AM

“The epidemic cannot be controlled by spraying a few departments with anti-corruption potion,” I argued. “If the country is marked 34th on the corruption list, it means the ailment is widespread and needs a nationwide treatment.”

“The interior ministry has been advised by the minister concerned to take swift action against known culprits in order to restore the good image of its various departments, including police, crime investigation agencies and passport offices,” Mr Right pointed out. “It shows they seem to be serious now to tackle the problem.”

“A bill passed by parliament recently to increase the jail sentence for those dealing in forged savings certificates and bonds from five to 10 years may also be an indication that the government is determined to eliminate fraud in society,” I said. “In that case the lawmakers involved in forgery of their academic degrees must be ready to enjoy a longer period of hospitality in government rest houses called jails, Mr Right said.

“The intended social reform might help to make people honest and law-abiding, but I am not sure if our law-enforcement apparatus, comprising police stations, courts, lock-ups and jails, is ready to cope with the enormous burden of work that will be created as a result of this campaign,” I said. “Do we have enough jails to accommodate all habitual lawbreakers, bribe-takers and dishonest individuals?”

Mr Right grinned. “You have a point. Actually, we should first expand our jails, create more courts and recruit more judges and lawyers to bring lawbreakers to book. At present, the whole society is so much steeped in corruption that if you look around, you hardly find a soul who looks innocent and remains innocent until proved otherwise.”

“I am worried about the enormity of the problem,” I explained. “Corruption has now been accepted as a social custom and a former minister wanted a fixed quota in it for people from an under-developed area. Likewise, ‘cooperation fees’ has also gone up. There was a time when decision-makers were happy with a 10 per cent share in kick-backs and commissions, but these rates have now hit the roof, after all these are times of high inflation.” “I know,” Mr Right smiled. “At a dinner, I met an engineer who had the reputation of building many bridges. But he was bragging about the architectural beauty of his house in the city’s most posh locality.”

“How much did it cost?” I asked. ‘Four pillars of the bridge he built on a city road,’ somebody whispered in my ear. The 10-pillar bridge was made to stand on six pillars.”

“This may be true,” I said. “But the man deserves a pat on his back for building a bridge that is at least visible. There are others who spend money and build bridges which are totally invisible.”

“That’s the crux of the problem,” Mr Right stressed. “We are living in the midst of invisible bridges which lead nobody nowhere. Anybody who undertakes a mission to eradicate corruption from society will have to dismantle these invisible bridges.”

“I agree, we find these invisible bridges everywhere and in every field from politics to business and from education to sports,” I said. “We need to get rid of these bridges otherwise more cricketers will have to flee their homes to seek salvation abroad.”

“The fight against corruption is a welcome move no doubt, but an effective cure is needed,” Mr Right said. “It’s is like Dengue virus, we know its symptoms but a proper cure is yet to be found.”

Najmul Hasan Rizvi is a formerAssistant Editor of Khaleej Times

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