We all talk about corruption, especially money laundering in Pakistan, mostly by our politicians or some of the influential people, but we never consider the lack of ethical and moral values as a form of corrupt practices.
Money laundering, making assets beyond means and financial misappropriations, no doubt, are the most significant forms of corruption, but we cannot confine corruption to only these wrongdoings. There are a lot of other behaviours too, which are part of corruption. Unfortunately, cases of unscrupulous politicians and the abuse of power are common in Pakistan, but are they the only ones who are involved in such behaviours?
We always tagged a politician or bureaucrat corrupt, who committed financial irregularities, while we never consider a person, who does not fulfill his duties and obligations, a corrupt. In my opinion, such a person is also corrupt.
For instance, a person who does not come to his office on time should also be considered as corrupt, but we never do so because we always thought corruption is linked with money only. If we see this in a larger perspective, we can realise that when a person being paid for eight hours of duty does not come to the office on time, he is being indulged in a corrupt practice because he is not giving full time for which he is being paid.
Likewise, low wages to employees, denying basic human rights, inhuman attitude towards others, non-serious attitude at work, making fool of people on one pretext or the other, and financial exploitation in the name of profiteering are all part of corruption.
Corruption is not an easy concept to define, but it exists both in rich and poor; however, the nature, extent and dynamics can be different. It is a behavioural consequence of power and greed.
Mostly, we do not consider various behaviours as corrupt practices, but in fact, it encompasses bribe, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, misuse of information and powers, etc.
Unfortunately, these behaviours can be found not only among the people in power or influential, but at the lower level too.
Appointment of people without merit, controlling and regulating activities, issuance of permits and licences without completing legal formalities, delivery of improper health and educational services, lack of justice, poor infrastructure, etc, are some of the forms of corruption.
In most of the developing countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh corruption has been rife due to poor governance, non-implementation of laws and above all low wages. Most of the countries are making regulatory and enforcement strides, including Pakistan, but the extent to which anti-corruption legislation can have a social and economic impact through behaviour change cannot be underestimated.
US poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide”. It has been witnessed that the tide is turning against corruption in Pakistan, but is it across-the-board or just a political revenge, is a million dollar question.
Dealing with corruption from the higher level has started to make inroads in Pakistan, but we should also look into the issue on a larger perspective, as these corrupt politicians or bureaucrats are also part of our society and we cannot only blame them, as in one way, or the other, almost all of us are indulged in corrupt practices.
Eradication of corrupt practices is prerequisite to growth and if we really want to make Pakistan a better place to live, we have to honestly assess ourselves.