′Rule of law can end corruption in Pakistan′ | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 06.12.2012
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'Rule of law can end corruption in Pakistan'

Analysts say that corruption continues to go unbridled and unchecked in Pakistan as Transparency International has ranked Pakistan the 33rd most corrupt country in the world.

Pakistan has gone from being the 42nd most corrupt country in the world in 2011 to 33rd in 2012. Analysts say that the new Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranking does not surprise them.

The international corruption watchdog also declared Pakistan the seventh most corrupt country out of 97 in the rule of law index for 2012.

Advocate Sohail Muzaffar, chairman of Transparency International Pakistan (TIP), told the media in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi on Wednesday all factors indicated "corruption in Pakistan was clearly on the rise."

Muzaffar explained that the ratings of a country were based on "the rule of law, the cost of doing business, the judicial system, and the police's integrity and performance."

Trickle-down corruption

Troops guarding the Red zone Islamabad (Photo: DW/Shakoor Raheem)

Many Pakistani experts believe the military is undermining the rule of law

Karachi-based journalist Nasir Tufail told DW that it was not a “revelation” that Pakistan was considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world. He said as long as there was no respect for the rule of law in the country, Pakistan would plunge deeper and deeper in the quagmire of corruption.

"Military dictatorships allowed corruption to flourish in Pakistan. The dictators needed justification for their illegitimate rule so they unleashed a culture of corruption, bought politicians and bureaucrats who could serve them," Tufail said, adding, "I am not surprised that Pakistan is in such a mess now."

Nizamuddin Nizamani, a researcher and civil society activist, said that the corruption trickled down from the highest levels of state institutions to common tax payers. He also said that corruption had rendered state institutions dysfunctional in Pakistan. "People have lost trust in government and state institutions. They try to find ways to survive in the system by using corruption as a means to get things done."

"What would a common man do in a country where corruption is a norm? Everybody dreams of becoming rich overnight. If there are no checks on corruption then you cannot stop people from doing things illegally," Tufail commented.

Anti-corruption movements

Some observers say a large number of educated urban Pakistanis from big cities like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi believe corruption is the biggest impediment to progress in the country. They tend to hold their politicians responsible for the situation and are looking to the Supreme Court in the hopes that it has gained enough independence to try corrupt legislators and politicians.

City-based anti-corruption movements, however, are also supported by right-wing parties and the private media, along with lawyers who initiated the so-called "Lawyers Movement" in 2007 for the restoration of sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan (C) waves during a protest rally against the reopening of the NATO supply route to Afghanistan, in Peshawar on July 14, 2012 (Photo: A Majeed/AFP/GettyImages)

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is leading an anti-corruption campaign

The general perception in Pakistan is that the military and judiciary are not as corrupt as civilian politicians.

"The foremost thing is to change the system. To eradicate corruption from Pakistan, we need to emphasize our morals and the accountability of politicians," Ahmed bin Mateen, a young Pakistani in Karachi, told DW.

But Pakistani researcher and social activist Nazish Brohi said it was too easy to simply point fingers at the politicians. She mentioned that because politicians were elected representatives of the people, unlike the judiciary, the media and bureaucracy, they were therefore more accountable to the people than any other institution.

"Politicians may be corrupt but they still have to answer to their voters."

She called the anti-corruption movement in Pakistan "undemocratic" and said the movement should focus on other elements in society.

"Most rural Pakistanis are not bothered about corruption. Corruption is not their foremost problem. They have other issues to worry about. In my view, the anti-corruption campaign is a very middle-class phenomenon in Pakistan."

Brohi said that the Pakistani middle class believed state institutions were an obstacle to their "upward social mobility" and economic growth, so they wanted a system which bypassed parliament and bureaucracy.

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