Corruption is a disease, a cancer that eats into a cultural, political and economic fabric of a society, and destroys its vital organs. A country exists to provide its citizens freedom from poverty, freedom from servitude and a high quality of life, where they are able to live without fear of injustice and tyranny. Nothing harms these objectives more than corruption in the organs of the state. The first victim is the development process itself, as inequalities get entrenched, and law and order breaks down. Corruption does not remain restricted to one sector, but instead permeates the whole society.

Pakistan is unfortunately a typical case. In the last five decades we have seen an exponential upsurge in the scourge of corruption with perhaps the steepest rise coming in the period 1985-1999. It was in the nineties that the demand for accountability became more vociferous than ever before. The result of such widespread corruption has been a loss of legitimacy of state institutions.

Corruption can be curbed if there is an honest leadership, meritocracy, financial control, decentralization, a conscious civil society and media, transparency and rule of law. There has to be a multi-pronged approach to fighting corruption. The measures taken to check corruption, such as the promulgation of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, Freedom of Information Ordinance and creation of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), have not produced any desired results.

Honest leadership and good governance can reduce corruption. The state institutions need to be strengthened and should be able to function effectively. Bureaucracy and judiciary should be inducted on merit, should be well paid, have pride in their work, and enjoy service security.

RIZWAN HASSAN MUSTAFA,

Karachi, May 19.