The latest report by Transparency International reveals that corruption has risen in Pakistan and the annually pilfered sum from the state coffers is approximately Rs500 billion. Yet, some of our politicians, members of civil or military bureaucracy and a few even amongst the civil society and media dismiss this as 'a necessary evil because they all benefit from this cancer of corruption. Rs. 500 billion is more than the annual allocation for all and everything that concerns education, health and social development in Pakistan. It is more than the Rs166 billion being offered to Pakistan per annum under the controversial Kerry Lugar Bill. This money, if accrued somehow and utilized properly, can resolve the issue of deprivation that has led to an insurgency-like situation in Balochistan. It can eradicate the threat of extremism that has today become our biggest problem. Corruption is the biggest threat to our national security. Appointment of cronies and retired khakis to key executive assignments in state-owned corporations have contributed to the rise in corruption. Press reports published in Liberacion, a French newspaper, have uncovered that in the Agosta Submarine deal, some $50 million were siphoned-off as kickbacks to members of the military, civil and political elite involved in this deal. It is time that the people of Pakistan understand that corruption is the biggest impediment to development in Pakistan and the most potent source of danger to our national security. Those who dismiss corruption as a non-issue are enemies of the state and society. -HANIF BALOCH, Quetta, November 18.