With former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Ex-President Asif Ali Zardari both facing cases regarding corruption and dishonesty, Prime Minister Imran Khan does not skip any opportunity to celebrate his stringent Anti-Corruption movement. When one thinks corruption, only ‘bad men in high places’ come to mind. But are we disguising our own shortcomings by blaming all of our problems on ‘a few bad men’? There is no reasonable doubt that Pakistan certainly needs to curb the disease of corruption. According to Transparency International, Pakistan lost more than Rs8.5 Trillion in only 5 years during the PPP led government from 2008-2013. Although that number has declined, the loss made to the national exchequer was still estimated to be over Rs. 200 billion per annum at one point. However, rarely are these billions and trillions of rupees lost only because of large scale corruption in massive projects. In fact, it is the mid to low level corruption that takes place every day in local government and private offices which the common man finds most unsettling. Pakistan is one of the worst-ranked countries in the world for corruption, and this triggers a question: Who are these corrupt people among us? Is it only the head of states, ministers and high-level officials that have contributed to such a massive corruption crisis? That is not likely to be true, and the answer to that question makes us, as a nation, take a good look in the mirror. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘corruption’ as ‘dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power’ With that definition putting a lot of things into perspective, it can be easily deduced that corruption is in no form nearing its end in Pakistan. But why is that the case? Even with full accountability, a number of ‘high powered commissions’ and an active government pursuit for a corruption-free Pakistan, why can one not say that corruption is going to sooner or later die a cold death because of accountability measures taking a rise? The fact of the matter is that ‘fraudulent and dishonest conduct’ has become so common that even those not in a position of power or authority have succumbed to fraud and deceit in any way they can. The root cause of monetary corruption lies in a nation that has forgotten all sense of keeping moral values and having a clean conscience. Take your local doodh waala, your low-level tax officer and your hospital clerk who is willing to push your name up the waiting list for a crisp blue bill. Unfortunately, Pakistan has remained a country plagued with corruption for far too long, making the issue nearly impossible to fix merely with government efforts. Making things worse is our history and habit of having reactionary and not proactive governments in power, meaning that although consequences of corruption are perhaps dealt with, by putting people in jail, something far more important is often forgotten; the root cause and background of the disease. Contrary to popular belief, we did not originally become corrupt when a bureaucrat or politician first decided to compromise on his conscience. We, as a nation, did not become corrupt when a government official first blurred his vision of right and wrong. For that was the corruption of a few individuals, perhaps even of the entire government. But not of a nation. But today, I fear, we have become a corrupt nation. Corrupt people. We became a corrupt nation when we first neglected our duties. We became a corrupt nation when we first took the easy way out and handed the policeman his wrongful share of our hard-earned income. When we first started influencing our weighing scale, and we became corrupt when we first resorted to con schemes. When we first tolerated military dictatorship. When we first tolerated bribery in government offices, and later made it the norm, right under the Quaid’s portrait with an ironic quote saying “rishwat lenay wala aur deney waala dono jahanammi” Every passing day, the privileged and the disadvantaged Pakistani alike continue to take the easy way out instead of the route of the law. This process of inaction has been so detrimental to the system that we now sit on a system that is essentially not functional without the factor of corruption and dishonesty. Pakistan finds itself in a classic case of the chicken and the egg. The general public becomes a party to wrongdoing because the system is such, but the system is corrupt because the public allowed it to be so! It is high time we put our foot down on our end of the loop. The truth is that as overly passionate as the Prime Minister is about eradicating corruption, he will not be successful until Pakistanis take it upon themselves to elevate their ethical and moral standards from where they are today. The fate of the country is largely in the hands of the younger generation, my generation. It is possibly our last chance of saving Pakistan from utter and permanent damage, and we can avail that chance by becoming more responsible and principled citizens. Whether our beloved homeland surges to great heights or dwells in obscurity, depends on how my generation will tackle the existing system once they enter it. Will we challenge it, or become a part of it as previous generations have? I, for one, pledge my loyalty to the future of the nation, instead of the future of a corrupt system. The writer is an A-level student at LGS Johar Town, Lahore. He is interested in writing about Politics and Sports, and hopes to pursue a career in Law in the future.