The basic definition of accountability is, ‘liable to account’. All decisions are tied with liability which is then regulated by accountability or review of accounts. The entire system of ‘Jaza’ and ‘Saza’ or ‘reward’ and ‘punishment’ is based on this approach. It is widely believed that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Only accountability can check this abuse.

In Pakistan, only the nation is held accountable and has to repeatedly face the brunt of poor decisions imposed upon them. In a democratic state, representatives are elected through an honest ballot which they have to regularly face. It is termed voter’s accountability. Peoples’ mandate cannot be over-ruled. A government that enters the corridors of power through legitimate means can then hold all other organs of the state accountable. If the process is manipulated by the Khakis and Qazis with the connivance of the Baboos, then no one can be held liable to account.

Mystery leads to mischief; that is why all accounts are held secret in the country. There is a massive cover up in which all organs of the state are involved. In the May 2013 elections, electoral rigging was carried out by corroboration of state machinations. The aggrieved party approached the election tribunals which were then stopped by the Qazis.

In 1997, foreign exchange was transferred before the freezing of accounts, and the names of the beneficiaries remain secret till today. There has been a manifold increase in the wealth of individuals who were elected in the party less elections of 1985. During his deposition in the Lahore High Court (LHC), one of the members of this plunder group stated that winning prize bonds were the main source of his phenomenal growth.

Loans have been written off; SRO’s issued, plots allotted, lucrative positions doled out; yet no names of perpetrators are ever made public. Recently, a TV anchor revealed a few names of individuals whose loans were written off and there was a big uproar. There were counter arguments and threats which then led to a silent cover-up. There were no resignations or apologies. Eventually it was business as usual.

After the 1999 Musharraf coup, the Sharif family moved to Jeddah. Somehow they have managed to build business empires in the UK and Saudi Arabia which include real estate as well. The family wealth keeps growing while no accounts are ever made public nor the sources of investment released. Ittefaq Foundry in Kot Lakhpat was nationalized in the Bhutto era and converted into Lahore Engineering and Foundry Works (LEFO). It was returned to the family in the eighties by General Zia. The facility was upgraded and did roaring business during the Sharif years in power. Today, it is shut down and tied in litigation.

The Thar Coal deposit in Sindh is one of the largest in the world (175 billion tons). Not a ton of this natural resource has been mined since its discovery in 1992. It is lignite quality ideally suited for above ground gasification. The established approach of mining followed by processing and gasification has not been adopted. Instead underground coal gasification (UCG) which is not suitable for the deposit has been adopted, and valuable time and effort has been wasted with no accountability or independent review. Over 20 billion dollars have been invested in the nuclear and defense production sectors around Islamabad with no financial or technical audits. Several individuals have laid claims to the development of the nuclear device, but real players remain anonymous. Dr. Riazuddin of Islamabad University designed the bomb while Engr. Munir Ahmed Khan who headed the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission for 18 years and Chairman Ishfaq Ahmed, were significant players. The two names that we mostly hear are Dr. Qadir Khan and Dr. Samar Mubarikmand, who were only minor players.

In the Bhutto era after the 1971 debacle and surrender, it was decided to air the signing ceremony at Paltan Maidan Decca. Pakistan Television (PTV) was swamped with calls to stop the showing as it was humiliating for the armed forces. The Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission report has not been published officially. The mystery of Tashkent remains un-resolved. Despite four martial laws and several debacles, the Khakis have escaped accountability mainly because the political leadership lacks credibility and stature.

The judiciary took a stand when the chief justice Pakistan (CJP) was shown the door by the men in uniform. It was the same judiciary that had earlier taken oath under PCO and had allowed the usurper to amend the constitution at will. The entire judicial process has been rendered non-functional after the lawyers’ movement. The backlog of cases continues to swell and finally military courts have been recommended. Baboos have not fared well either and blame the politicians, Khakis and the Qazis, ignoring the fact that all summaries are prepared and moved by them. They have mastered the art of mystery by concealing and confusing facts and hiding behind files and paperwork.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is concerned only with financial misappropriation. Abuse of authority, favoritism, nepotism, crimes of omission and commission, delays, conflict of interest etc. are totally over-looked. Humans have been designed around accountability, and every religion highlights this fact. Man made institutions cannot function without accountability. Let us open all accounts for the nation to see but the first essential step is a free, fair and honest ballot. Only credible elected leadership can ensure accountability for institutions to deliver.

The writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.