Corruption, commitment, competence, compassion, courage

In December 1979 when I arrived in Arizona for graduate studies, I came to know about the five C’s of the state: Copper, Cattle, Citrus, Cotton, Climate. While I enjoyed the climate, I had the chance to work on copper. Later on, two more C’s were added: Cactus, Canyons. The Grand Canyon state now has seven C’s to market its economy. While most of the copper has been mined, climate has attracted phenomenal growth.  As a result of this surge Phoenix is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

In the recently held conference on “Economic Diplomacy’ the Prime Minister (PM) talked about corruption, commitment, compassion while competence and courage was not highlighted. The crusade against corruption is commendable and should continue unabated with courage but without competence there would be limited long term gains. In the last forty years (1977 to 2017) most civilian institutions have ceased to function. There is an institutional collapse, those who are honest are not competent while the dishonest ones deliver only for personal gains. While corruption rules, overall there is total lack of competence, compassion and courage, in other words it is a big mess.

The PM talked about going to IMF for loans followed by signing treaties like SEATO and CENTO. Till October 1958 the country was debt free, everyone lived within means, the focus was on nation building based on human development. After ten years of his misrule when the dictator decided to celebrate his decade of progress the have nots decided to hit back. It was a mini revolution that toppled the usurper who was forced to resign in March 1969 thus the so called golden period for some while the majority suffered came to an end.

It has been reported that corruption in Sindh has long been tracked but with no checks. A JIT report was prepared in 2015 and submitted to the Ministry of Interior. Prosecution of the corrupt has always been weak as no one seems to protect national wealth, everyone wants to take his own turn. With corrupt individuals in the government and opposition, the nation has been taken for a ride by rent seeking politicians

The late Air Marshal Asghar Khan who build the Pakistan Air Force into a formidable force used to say that the intelligence agencies in the country know more about us than we are aware of our self, up to date files are kept, to be used at the appropriate time. It is always easy to deal with the corrupt as the collected data is usually linked to the gathered information against them.

In the 1970 elections Dr. Mubashir Hasan secured the highest number of votes and was appointed Finance Minister in Bhutto’s cabinet. In his own words, ‘We thought our orders would be implemented, but they were not.’ Dr. Sahib eventually resigned and never contested again. Bhutto and his team used their competence and courage to deliver change. It is mainly because of his legacy that his party was able to win five electoral contests.

It has been reported that the corruption in Sindh has long been tracked but with no checks. A JIT report was prepared in 2015 and submitted to the Ministry of Interior. Prosecution of the corrupt has always been weak as no one seems to protect national wealth, everyone wants to take his own turn. With corrupt individuals in the government and opposition the nation has been taken for a ride by rent seeking politicians.

Now that the corrupt in the two main political parties are being prosecuted they are demanding across the board accountability which will eventually happen. The corrupt are on the run but they cannot hide. Even the PM will not be able to shelter the the unscrupulous elements within his own party, it is only a matter of time. As already indicated the year 2019 is poised to be clean-up time. With the country moving in the direction of a welfare state, hope has been rekindled for the suffering masses of the Islamic Republic.

Uplift of the people is the ultimate test of any elected government such vote centred periods have been very brief in our checkered political history (1947 – 1958 and 1971 – 1977). Pakistan has been mostly under the boots or their political tailcoats left behind. Hopefully some lessons must have been learnt by know. Only honest and competent political leadership can take us forward otherwise the backward spiral would continue.

The PM is right compassion has been missing in the colonial bureaucracy that we inherited. As corruption was contained in the formative years, the administrative set up relied on competence and courage to deliver. With state sponsored corruption during the Zia dark ages (1977 – 1988) now most institutions are controlled by ‘Mafias’ of all kinds. Even office hours are not kept, government offices remain deserted in the morning and no one comes back to work after lunch.

After containing corruption, Pakistan can focus on the remaining four C’s: Commitment, Competence, Compassion, Courage without these there will be no meaningful change. Islamabad is a very bouncy wicket on which very, few players have been able to play useful innings that is why only ‘C’ of corruption has been dominant rest have been overlooked. The PM should evaluate the performance of his team against these missing four C’s in the capital. Once these are achieved, like Arizona he can add more C’s to the list like: Care, Character.

For over seven decades people of Pakistan have not been cared for, they have been led by individuals with no character. Without commitment, competence, compassion, courage, care and character the masses will continue to suffer. Kaptaan has a historic opportunity to correct the course of the nation by introducing these basic ingredients in his party and government.

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation

Published in Daily Times, January 18th 2019.