These days everyone is talking of rampant corruption in the country. Even it has hit the headlines across the world and our “corruption status.” Well we weren’t like this before. I have been born and raised in this country and have seen the good days when there was peace, development and progress. Those were the days when everyone had a sincerity of purpose. All efforts were o see a prospering and developing Pakistan. There was less nepotism, less cheating and of course less corruption. Days when people respected each other. Days when white collared people had a respect in the society. Then things went bad, slowly and gradually.
I don’t know when, but I believe our decline started from the 70s. People stopped respecting each other. Since everyone had a voice, so no one used it with respect. Suddenly from 22 families, the number started to rise. People started to get richer and poorer too. There were no checks and balances. Everyone seems to be making hay at the cost of others. When looting at the top became so obvious and living at the middle and bottom became so difficult, so everyone thought to join in the looting – looting of the exchequer. While some people took bribes underhand, now it was done right in the day light. Even for a small work at a governmental department, the clerks started to ask bribes without any shame and or hesitations.
My post Point to Ponder on 28th October was in fact a prelude to this post, where in I quoted Nathaniel Hawthorne saying, “It is my opinion that a man's soul may be buried and perish under a dung-heap, or in a furrow of the field, just as well as under a pile of money.” This is exactly the case today. While the souls of the dead are resting in the graveyards, those of the alive are buried under the lies of money that has been collected through unfair means. While a fraction of the society pays income tax, a larger majority has many excuses not to pay it. And what is more disturbing that the best people of our society who are voted during elections, the few ones who are lucky to represent the rest in the parliament are among those who have most fingers raised at.
The Swiss Cases, the possession of palaces and bank balances in billions in foreign banks and investment of millions abroad are some cases in point of people who are so poor in the country that they do not pay any income tax. Rightly so, because they don’t keep anything in the country to pay income tax. When the top officials of the government including the ones related to financial institutions don’t pay income taxes, what can be expected of ordinary people? The small shop owners, who earn handsomely, take refuge behind their small business and shirk from paying the taxes due to them. Most of the businessmen don’t pay actual electricity charges and arrive at some understanding with the local electricity people to evade hefty bills.
While the father of the nation took a token salary of one rupee, the elected representatives, who are otherwise filthy rich, not only take home unthinkable salaries but also privileges amounting to millions each month. Our minister need bulletproof cars, even the tires of which cost millions, as if these would save them from the angel of death when he descends from the Heavens. The assets of the politicians are said to have swelled manifold since the last elections is yet another question mark. How come suddenly after winning the elections their businesses have started to thrive?
Now even the world community has started to point out to the unbearable corruption in our ranks. The recent floods and the reaction of the world community is case in point. The foreign governments feel uncomfortable in providing us the help in cash or even if it is given, it is being routed through reputed NGOs rather than the government. Our credibility is seriously at stake. But those who should feel it and take corrective measures have their souls buried under the piles of ill gotten money. So long they live in their present state; we will continue to be labeled as one of the most corrupt. So long the poor are not given their due share, a decent life to live, the corruption at lower levels will not whither. So long the rich don’t pay the taxes due to them, others will not evade paying the same.
We have to take a start – this time form the top. Let no one run away from one’s obligations and the law must remain supreme to harness the corrupt. Let those billions of unwritten loans be recovered fare and square – with no immunity to anyone. This is when we would be respected and prosper, otherwise our souls will remain enslaved to our lust for money forever.