USMAN GHAZI Our politicians and bureaucrats are busy defending themselves against charges of corruption after the publication of latest Transparency International Report and the naming and shaming of beneficiaries under the National Reconciliation Ordinance, 2007 (NRO). Does it come as a surprise to a Pakistani that those who rule here are corrupt? No However, anyone harbouring doubts needs to consider what follows. Politics and corruption are synonymous in Pakistan and the way things are, it is a fact that almost every politician is corrupt. This is not merely a general statement without proof but is based upon logic and reality. Politics ought to be public service, like in the West; however, in Pakistan it is a business. In contesting an election, a politician makes an investment of at least five million rupees for a seat in provincial legislature and at least 10 million rupees for one at national level. If elected, the politician recovers his investment, plus the expenses of maintaining the lifestyle of the elite, and secures the expenses of contesting the next election. But our shrewd businessman-politician knows it not to be enough. His corruption in gaining a good return on his investment would almost certainly mean that he would not get elected next time or if he is lucky then his party would lose for the same reason. Therefore, he would contest the next election to lose, somehow survive the opposition's tenure and contest the following election to be back in power. Hence, during his term, he has to save for the period in opposition and for the following election. Realistically, his return on investment ought to be 10 times, at least, otherwise he is either insane or a saint. There is another dimension. The period spent by a politician in opposition is harsh as the opponents he victimised during his time would show no mercy to him. To survive this, a politician has to have dependable friends in bureaucracy who would perpetually be in power and would certainly return favours bestowed upon them during that politician's term. This is the reason behind the existence of a nexus of evil between politicians and bureaucracy. Also, politicians oblige friends, relatives and people they trust by inducting them in the services for same reason. Our bureaucracy, which is not alien to corruption, favouritism and nepotism, jumps at this opportunity to reap benefits. Some bureaucrats, who show utmost fidelity to their political friends, end up paying a price during the opposition's term, but when their friends are back they are rewarded by inclusion in government or through such posts which assure them a happy retirement. Others who change their loyalties with a change in government are rewarded by the incoming government upon sharing vital evidence against the last regime of corruption through which they could be indicted. Such bureaucrats are not silly to await the next change and grab as much as they can while in office. Technocrats and experts, even constitutional appointees, are also appointed upon the basis of personal loyalties and behave the same. Such connections between politicians and servants of the state exist at lower levels as well, especially in departments dealing with law enforcement and administration. No wonder, bureaucrats are the foremost beneficiaries under the NRO. Thus Pakistan's corrupt elite ensures its hold on power and only those who can afford it are welcome. This explains why feudal lords - chaudhries, waderas, sardars, khans, etc. - are the usual faces in the government. A few businessmen and others who could afford to participate have also joined in. To expect these people to be altruistic is against logic. Another fact is of Pakistani politics is that it is hereditary. It seems that the only person capable of or eligible in a constituency to represent people is the son or daughter of a former politician. Even parties are inherited by minors, who have no other claim to enter public service than that of being the fruit of the loins of a politician. Evidently, politics is so profitable that parents leave this profession in inheritance to their children. What parents could do more? While politicians and their friends gain there must be some who lose. It is us, the hapless nobodies who pay taxes and bear the expenses of elections and governments and work hard hoping in vain that merit ensures success. However, it has always been a government elected by the people (though with widespread evidence of election engineering this statement is doubtful) but never has there been a government of the people and manned by the people from middle or lower classes. Can such a system be called 'democracy' where elite is perpetually in power? Is politics public service in Pakistan? Are the officers of the state really public servants? Should we be surprised at such reports of corruption? Ought we to believe their defences against such allegations? Before the readers conclude that democracy is an evil concept, they should consider that in the West, Obama, not a rich man, got elected because his election campaign was financed by political contributions and by his political party financed by people, businesses and entities whose interests it represented. We should learn to work democracy before we attempt it, because merely labelling a system as such or maintaining it in form, sans substance, serves no purpose. It is well known that power begets wealth and vice versa, but in societies without rule of law and proper checks and balances, this leads to exploitation of the weak, with an inevitable collapse of the order. If there is to be real change, then the whole system should be reformed, with a new political force arising from the people and accountability of those who have profited at the expense of the people. Knowing well, that such people, with their entrenched interests, would not leave willingly, if it requires a revolution for Pakistan to be what Islam taught, Iqbal dreamt and Quaid desired, so be it. After all, Pakistan's creation was a revolution. The writer is a lawyer and a visiting lecturer at the University of the Punjab. Email: ghazi@lawyer.com