Pakistan has witnessed a continuous decadence of all state institutions. Today, our economic survival and credibility stands threatened by indiscipline and massive institutionalized corruption. Institutions strengthen by weeding out the black sheep, but in Pakistan the tendency is to brush everything under the carpet. Over the years, an elite class has emerged, which considers itself to be above law and beyond any reprimand. They have amassed assets well beyond their means and compromised rules and collective national interest to ensure that their individual perks, both legitimate and illegitimate, do not face any threat of withdrawal. We live in a country where social status of the elite is gauged by the frequency with which they violate laws and financial scams have become a routine affair, as if it were a necessary evil that we have to live with. What we fail to understand is that people entrusted with public office, either elected or paid, must adhere to a higher moral and ethical code than that required of ordinary citizens. Just look at the shameful arrogance of 24 retired senior civil bureaucrats unwilling to vacate official residences in Lahore GOR 1, which they are required to leave within 6 months of retirement. Few of them retired almost 6 to 7 years back and in any case were serving the federal government. Almost all of them during service had been allotted multiple prime real estate plots so that they could build houses. The Punjab government which takes pride in demolishing and ejecting unauthorized occupation of land in major cities seems to be helpless when it is a question of enforcing discipline on even retired senior bureaucrats. Recently when senior ministers were caught watching dance sequence on You-Tube in Sindh Assembly, they instead of apologizing rebuked the lady member, who pointed out this immature act of theirs. In Islamabad a serving major got entangled with a lady lecturer in a minor road incident and was so enraged that he used brute force and intimidation to ensure that this poor lady spends the night in a police station, without any judicial authority. It reminds us of the mad rejoicing by former military dictator Musharraf at the brutal murder of an aged politician Nawab Akbar Bugti in Balochistan and slaughtering of citizens on 12 May in Karachi, or his unacceptable role, unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman in Dr Shazia Khalids alleged rape in the same province. The series of incidents that have embarrassed our defense forces are a consequence of years of indiscipline that has prevailed amongst the few top ranking officers. In USA over the past 18 months, the Navy has disciplined and sacked 29 commanding officers for offences committed by them which include sexual harassment or inappropriate personal relationships, while three others were fired for alcohol-related offenses, and two on unspecified charges of personal misconduct. In an article published by Washington Post dated 17 June 2011, Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, called the increase in firings bothersome but said the Navy was duty-bound to uphold strict behavioral standards, even when commanders are off-duty. As a nation we have to understand that when the rot starts from the top, it is the top that must be disciplined and held accountable so that it the trickle down effect sends the proper message, otherwise this decadence threatens our very survival as a self respecting sovereign state. MALIK TARIQ ALI, Lahore, June 23.