“Corruption is a greater threat than terrorism in the province [Balochistan].” This statement was made by the then chief minister of Balochistan, Dr Malik Baloch, last year in a seminar organised by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Last Friday, the NAB recovered more than 730 million rupees worth of currency and bonds from the residence of Balochistan Secretary of Finance Mushtaq Ahmed Raisani. The finance secretary has been accused of embezzling billions of rupees from local government funds. Media reports showed that money was hidden in various places at his residence, and even in bumpers of his cars.
Figuring out the connection between the above-mentioned two opposite — a vigilant statement and an unscrupulous action is not easy. Despite the fact that Raisani was posted during Baloch’s tenure, after the raid on Raisani, Baloch assured of his ignorance of the former’s corrupt practices. Khalid Langvo, finance adviser, resigned from his post given the pressure of the scandal of this huge misappropriation of government funds. Nonetheless, tales of corruption appear to be nothing new or surprising, but bringing the culprits to justice would surprise the public, as that is contrary to expectations.
The NAB also arrested the former chairman Balochistan Public Service Commission (BPSC) Ashraf Magsi over charges of corruption, misuse of funds worth millions of rupees and recruiting incompetent officers above grade 17.
Corruption in any form does not reflect anything good. The BPSC case has been no less than a block in the way of recruiting officers in the light of rules and regulations of the organisation giving importance to merit and capability. To many talented aspirants with no political affiliation, the BPSC remains one of the ways to become employees of government. Given certain corrupt practices, the number of unemployed young people in the province has increased in an alarming manner. It can be gauged from the fact that for a few hundred posts thousands of forms are filled, and for a thousand posts, hundreds of thousands of aspirants apply. That is how the number of unemployed is increasing, and there seems to be no solution to this issue that affects lives of millions of people in Balochistan.
The budget of Balochistan for the fiscal year 2015-2016 was 230 billion rupees, and the total amount for development was 54 billion rupees. The prevailing state of affairs further shrinks the outlay. Given records of corruption as an all-time disease countrywide, it is obvious many stories are yet to come on surface. In 2009, the card of the 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award was played. Even that fell prey to corruption, as a number of jobs are yet to be announced under that NFC Award. Needless to say it had a great deal to do with political gains. According to reports, 300 million rupees were embezzled by government of Nawab Aslam Raisani, from 2008 to 2013. Had there been transparency and accountability in the provision, economic situation might — to some extent — have been different. Nonetheless, a province that has already been tainted with political highs and downs, corruption has led it to a murkier ground.
Corruption within government takes place quite systematically. Most politicians, during their five-year tenure in government, try to embezzle as much money as possible. It does not matter to them if those government funds are for education, health or social welfare.
What can’t be ignored here is that bureaucratic structure has longer tenures than than that of politicians. The subject of corruption and manipulation is probably not applicable to every bureaucrat servicing in the province, but a great number does indulge in these practices. Bureaucrats under ministerial or political thumb, in most cases, remain a supporting hand in embezzling ‘percentage’ of government funds. On the other hand, those who refuse to become part of illegal or immoral activities face harassment in various forms: posting in far-flung areas, late promotions, endowment of less perks etc., to mention a few. Under abysmal circumstances remaining silent becomes the easy option.
In the phenomenon of corruption, there exists a supporting chain that links politicians and government functionaries. Paralysing the line of chain will mitigate the mishandling that happens on a regular basis. From lower level to higher-ups, their contribution in plundering of government money destroys the government structure. With the view to making it stop, ensuring accountability at all spheres and a no-compromise step such as the one NAB is taking at the moment is the need of the hour.
The writer is a freelance columnist