By Yasir Habib Khan –
Contrary to popular claims and concepts, corruption goes as unabated and unchecked in Punjab as in other provinces
Governmental corruption touched peaks in 2014 making public offices sick of bribery, kickbacks, embezzlements, bad governance and forgery in official record to protect big shots amid the Sharifs’ verbalization for the rule of merit and transparency in the country.
A classified report compiled by intelligence agencies unearthed creeping institutional corruption after mapping the performance of bureaucracy and government during 12 months. The report falsified smart statistics played by PML-N government taking advantage of Transparency International report.
Recent revelation of former Punjab law minister Rana Sana Ullah put a big damper on government claims of fairness after he made loud and clear that every MNA, MPA gets 16 percent kickback in all development projects.
Acting as whistleblower, intelligence agencies prepared a report on spiraling graft in public offices. The report submitted to federal interior ministry revealed that almost 71 percent government officials were found of manipulating set merits parameters. “More than 62 percent public office holders are indulged in various kinds of corruption, 30 percent receive illegal gratification directly while 42 percent government employees have various means to take bribe,” report spelled out. The report further said that corruption had many faces and popular kind of corruption was that 55 percent were fond of getting their personal works done and bagging costly gifts in return of those works that could never be executed under government prescribed terms and conditions.
CM Punjab secretariat senior official on the condition of anonymity said “It has also been uncovered through the report that files and data prepared against corrupt officials were misplaced, disappeared, hushed up or burnt under mysterious circumstances. Later demerits changed into merits and officials implicated in graft cases got off the hook.”
As per report, Punjab government has topped in the list of departmental corruption. KP, Sindh and Balochistan are rated as second, third and forth in corruption index. Report includes all big guns including DMGs, Chief Secretaries, Secretaries, Commissioners, DCOs, EDOs and Directors. Report pinpointed worst condition of corruption in the domains of Police, Health, Education, Food, Local Governments, Water, Infrastructure, Irrigation, Information Technology and Power.
In a distasteful move, Punjab government flaunted the rules and regulations and smashed all level of transparency when it ordered to purchase seven new vehicles despite strict ban. Four have been purchased costing Rs.10.5 million and three are on the way. Chief Secretary Syed Mubashar Raza sent a summary to CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif after Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja Rehman thumped up the purchase. CM bent the rules and vehicles were bought.
Taking cognizance of mounting graft situation, Punjab Finance department put on hold all funds that were to be released to various department including Live Stock, C & W, Housing, Public Health, Irrigation, Highway and others. It also suspended development share that was due to be doled out to local governments. So much so, grants and funds that had to be handed out to MPAs to complete the development works have been stopped till further orders. Source privy to development disclosed that in order to check rampant financial irregularities, decision was under review to release the funds in installments instead of one go.
In recent Past, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) declared Punjab responsible for 65 percent corruption in the country. Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid termed the claim as fabricated saying it was old report engineered by PPP.
Even during current Punjab Assembly session, PML-N’s own lawmakers burst out their outrage against rapid rise of corruption in government departments. Shaikh Allauddin slammed secretaries for not being present in their offices. PML-N MPA Khalil Ahmed Sindhu deplored that Punjab Civil Secretariat was aimed to ease out people’s problems but secretaries preferred doing work of their own choices.
One-year performance report compiled by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) exposed PML-N government appearing soft on corruption at governmental level.
PILDAT survey said that the in the eye of public, PML-N government at center was not transparent, honest or accountable in its policies and projects. With a view to regain the trust of people, government has to fade away perceptions of corruption and irregularities in its management from head to toe, it added. The opinion polls also said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif received 52 per cent negative rating as people dubbed his performance in the last year as bad to very bad.
Punjab government Spokesperson Zaeem Qadri refuted such reports and said that government had taken everybody by surprise by clamping down cartel of corruption. “We earned our wing and Transparency International report certified our efficiency,” he claimed.
Since corruption is rife, Sharifs and their financial wizards like to use jugglery of statistics to showcase pseudo performance. Experts branded it as statistical corruption. Former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Dr Muhammad Yaqub in his report said that annual report of the State Bank of Pakistan for fiscal year 2014, was full of contradictory statements and it had to be designed with a view to avoid government resentment.
The report said that growth rate claimed to be 4.1 percent in 2014 but the Institute for Policy Reforms head Dr Hafiz Pasha described it exaggerated and claimed that it was actually lower than even the previous year.
Under the wired situation, many question marks have appeared on the report on Transparency International (TI) which is now being capitalized by PML-N government in projecting its lofty claims against lowering down corruption. Report said that a steep decline has been monitored in the rate of corruption in Pakistan as it stood at 126th position in an index of 175 countries.
TI Report, surprisingly, claimed Pakistan ranking up to 126th position by getting 29 point scored on the basis of corruption, misuse of power, hidden transaction and bribery from zero. The country has never got this distinction since the first CPI was released in 1995, it said
However, hidden fact testifies true picture of rampant corruption that is badly affecting flow of billions of dollars of investment and foreign aid. UK set the condition of releasing the aid of a $6.7 billion IMF aid programme on checking the corruption.
S & GD official, in reaction to report, said that thousands of inquires had been initiated against corrupt officials. Usually, some inquiries stay alive for a while and later are thrown on back burner. Whether new corruption files would let the corrupt mafia be brought to book or spared unhurt as happened in most of cases, all hinged on government resolve to root out corruption and to be true with statistics.