THE National Corruption Survey 2010, put out by Transparency International, makes for dismal reading for Pakistan. According to the Survey, corruption overall had increased from Rs 195 billion to Rs 223 billion and 70 percent Pakistanis felt that the present government was more corrupt than the previous one. Of course, given the levels of corruption, that hardly redeems the previous government, but to find our democratic set-up once again riddled with corruption is distressing. As expected, police and the power ministry once again topped the list of the two most corrupt sectors with land administration in third place. Corruption has also increased in the judiciary, education and local government sectors; but of some comfort was the information that the FBRs two departments, Customs and Taxation, were ranked as the least corrupt. Bribery continues to play a major role in government, according to the Survey. The Survey also pointed to lack of governance along with corruption so that one is left with the inevitable result of poverty, illiteracy, shortages in critical sectors and a country with no credibility - and hence no inflows of aid and assistance. The most corrupt sector, Tendering, eats up at least 40 percent of the countrys development budget. The senior Judiciarys resoluteness in enforcing zero tolerance towards corruption was commended in the Survey. In the case of provincial governments, only the present Punjab government came out as being less corrupt than the previous one, while the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was the most corrupt. As expected, Punjabs Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was pleased with the report. He said this reflected his governments commitment to transparency and merit. While one should commend any reduction in the scale of corruption, the CM must be aware that his policies are merely a beginning and much more needs to be done to counter the debilitating evil of corruption. One hopes he will continue to move Punjab out of the web of corruption and towards development for all, including the deprived public of southern Punjab. As for the anger shown by the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the Survey, it would be far better for it to accept the conclusions and seek to improve on their poor performance. If ever proof was needed of how corruption, bribery and nepotism can destroy a society and state, these yearly surveys are proof enough. It is time the present government got serious about governance, and then eventually good governance, and eliminating corruption. A beginning will have to be made by eliminating the political culture of favours, underhand deals, nepotism and a total lack of transparency. Unless we alter this political culture, our development and national progress will continue to be stymied.