The flavour of the month seems to be corruption. Corruption is not just something which has afflicted the subcontinent since time immemorial, to the extent that certain archetypal figures of corruption have developed. But the British Raj is ascribed both a freedom from corruption that marks good governance, and a corruption that despite everything was present, and reflects the burden of bureaucracy. If Imran Khan and his Tehrik-i-Insaf are seen as combating corruption in Pakistan, it is Anna Hazare who is seen as Indias anti-corruption crusader. It is, perhaps, symptomatic that both are attempting to climb the electoral bandwagon that is the cause of modern corruption. Whereas Imran has long campaigned to achieve political power, Hazare has only now announced that he would like to prevent the Congress from achieving office in State elections until it supports the Lok Pal Bill he supports, and for which he recently went on hunger strike. Though Imran is a crusader against corruption, the discussion among hard-headed analysts of his chances of being elected were symptomatic: The discussion centred around money, the ability of Imran to bankroll candidates, what with a National Assembly race estimated to cost Rs40 million to contest this time around. The PPP and the PML-N have apparently solved this problem by giving tickets to 'winning horses, or those who can themselves put up that kind of money, because the parties cannot. The discussion centred partially about the effect of 'winning horses on the PTI, and also on how the recent Lahore rally, after which not only did Imran emerge as a credible alternative, but also began to attract exactly those 'winning horses into his party. The rally was supposed to have been funded by the PTI volunteers. The assumption of the deleterious effects of the 'winning horses joining was that they would corrupt the party, because of the desire to recoup the investment. The assumption seems to be that elected members allow corruption because of this. It was not discussed that not only Pakistan is vulnerable, but so are all democratic countries, to the power of money. Pakistan may well be more vulnerable because there is virtually no regulation, but it seems to be the besetting problem of democracy, that while elections need money to be fought, not enough disinterested contributors are there to keep politics similarly disinterested. 'Wininng horses either have money of their own or know people with money. If they win, the story is not over, for it merely means that money is needed for the next election: At best, in five years, at worst, in less than two years Fighting an election is expensive because it means spending on rallies, as well as transporting the voters. While individuals may be able to meet those expenses, if the candidate has to raise this money from others, these others seek ways to recoup their expenses, and they only have the pleasure of having their man in the Assembly. This means that he must exercise his powers in a way which benefits them. Since his power includes that of legislation, including passing taxation measures in budgets, 'financiers expect 'winning horses to pass helpful legislation, not harmful. In return, the legislator is willing to play the role of mediating between the individual and the State. But it should be noted that once it is conceded that the member should also continuously raise money, some of this money, which would be to multiply illegal (being not only undeclared for purposes of taxation by the donor, but also by the recipient), would not go to subsidising the future campaign, but the current lifestyle of the candidate. As one prominent politician once said, he had not even bought his own socks after he entered politics. A member who got used to this flow of free money would not want a reform of the system. That the money problem is a major challenge to modern democracy is shown by the conviction of both former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and former Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao for taking bribes. Both needed the money for their parties. Where parties attempt to monopolise candidates, they provide the money for them to contest elections. Indeed, if candidates take money from other sources, they will listen to those sources rather than their parties, and among their partys leaders, they will listen to those who can give them money. This leads to the unedifying spectacle of party heads taking bribes to fund party elections. The spectacle is unveiled because political enemies have used the legal system to punish them. It is worth noting that the political system establishes punishments for improper behaviour. However, the untrammelled power of legislation means that such legislation is meant mainly to contain public disgust at the behaviour of politicians. This behaviour is observable by the general public. However, it is generally a bolting of the stable door after the horse has bolted. Politicians tend to be reformists only as long as they are outside the system. When they are able to manipulate the system in their favour, they become converts in its favour. A more neutral example than any campaign finance reform is proportional representation. The advantage is that every vote is counted; the disadvantage is that it does not yield representatives with any obligation to individual voters. Be that as it may, it is also noticeable that it is only supported by parties which have little hope of being elected to power in the prevalent first-past-the-post system, and if they become adept enough at it, their support for proportional representation falls below the level needed to implement it. It should be noted that the corruption charge is a hoary one, dating back to Ayub Khans Electoral Bodies Disqualification Order (EBDO), and is usually laid by military rulers. The corruption charges made against the two Benazir Bhutto governments were backed by the military. Politicians, who seem to float to the top, especially when they hold office, seem to excite a lot of envy among those they are supposed to represent and serve. So when essentially non-political people (like the military) obtain political power, corruption among politicians is almost inevitable as an issue to rally support among those non-political people, who do not share in that power. Imran is positioning himself as representing that class, and thus finds himself fitting into the militarys permanent agenda. Both the military and Imran want something that seems impossible, unless one remembers the modernising mission of military men: That of having more democracy, while avoiding its defects. It is an underlying assumption that people in Pakistan (or India) are not fit for democracy, lacking education, tolerance, or some other attribute which makes Westerners superior. The military in Pakistan claims that it will instil these attributes, and Imran Khans mastery over a white mans game, combined with his Oxford education, also give him the aura of being able to introduce these. It is, perhaps, paradoxical that Islam tried to avoid this particular pitfall, not by any restriction on campaign funding or other such mechanism, but by removing the source of elected officials power: The power of legislation. The Supreme lawgiver is the Almighty, not in some remote or ultimate sense, but very immediately, through the Quran and the Sunnah. While it is true that even a Parliaments laws are essentially judicial interpretations, Islamic law is judge-made, and thus beyond elected officials. While the consent of the people is required for the exercise of executive authority, legislative power is not elected. The writer is a veteran journalist and founding member as well as Executive Editor of TheNation. Email: maniazi@nation.com.pk