Pakistan’s journey from corruption to competence is on the bumpy road of incompetence. We started off well. Most individuals at the helm were both competent and honest. Liaquat Ali Khan the first Prime Minister (PM) declared that he would not own his own dwelling till every Pakistani had one. He was not alone in this crusade. Abdul Hafeez Kardar’s 94th birth anniversary is being talked about. He was the father of our cricket who gave it all to the game. In the seventies he was elected to the provincial assembly from Lahore and rose to become the education minister. He continued to live in his rented apartment on the canal and used his own Ford Cortina car even for official duties.

Till the 1985 party less elections corruption was largely contained in the land of the pure. Several people stand out. President K.H. Khurshid resigned as President of Azad Kashmir over differences with the PM. For his journey back home to Lahore, he rented a private car. Lived all his life in a rented house on Race Course Road. Qayyum Khan as Chief Minister KPK served the province well. University of Peshawar and the Warsak Dam were his contributions. After retiring from politics, he started his law practice. After the fall of the first usurper he returned to politics. As Interior Minister he introduced major reforms in the Passport Directorate which enabled Pakistanis to travel abroad. The National Identity Card system was also introduced during his term of office. His honesty and integrity were above board.

Imran Khan took oath of office on August 17, 2018 as the 22nd Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The 1st Prime Minister was surrounded by able and honest individuals while the current situation is different. Till 1958 most political leadership was competent and corruption free. Then again Bhutto’s term (1971-1977) saw the rise of honest and able leadership. Dr. Mubashir Hasan, Mairaj Khalid, Khurshid Hasan Mir, Hanif Ramay, Hayat Sherpao, Hafiz Pirzada to name a few, all served well.

In order to save Pakistan, corruption has to be contained. Honesty and competency have to be restored. Between Bhutto the 9th Prime Minister to Imran Khan the 22nd a lot of dirt has flown under the bridge. Almost all of them are under NAB (National Accountability Bureau) investigation. Both the Sharif brothers are already imprisoned while Zardari is not too far behind.

Today corruption is so rampant that the corrupt have become a ‘Mafia’. Corruption free Pakistan will not be easy. Transition is an arduous task. Perhaps Bhutto was the last able and honest Prime Minister of the country. After him no one has written a word on the files. Paper work is an important part of governance without which effective delivery cannot be assured.

Finally, the corrupt have decided to form an alliance to save their skin and looted wealth. This may prove to be the last crusade for ‘Naya Pakistan’ in which there would be no personal fiefdoms of the corrupt. Only those who will be able to come clean will remain in the arena others will have to bite the dust. The PM is known for resilience and grit, as a Kaptaan he has always fought till the last ball.

Over the years the agencies have collected so much data of the corrupt that their escape is improbable. The Joint Investigation Teams (JIT), are rightly being called the ‘Jinn Investigation Teams’ as the information is readily available in the files. It is time to put this collected information to good work.

Expectations of the nation have been raised beyond means. With an honest leader at the top, resources of the nation are now in safe hands for the first time after the dreadful 1985 exercise of the third usurper. Political cleansing is required for which there has to be will and grit. As the stakes are high, the corrupt will not go without a fight. Coming weeks are crucial as they shape the destiny of this impoverished nation.

So far, the elected government and establishment are on one page for fight against corruption. As the tussle between the forces of righteousness and evil gets bloody their resolve will be put to test. Hopefully Kaptaan will hold his ground and not buckle against pressure as Farooq Leghari did in the nineties after dismissing the government of his own party. It was the fear of the coalition of the corrupt that accountability clauses of the Constitution were waived by the President thereby enabling the Mafia to grab power who then got rid of him.

It is clearly laid down in the Constitution that tax, loan, utility bills defaulters are not eligible to contest elections. Adherence to this consensual document can itself contain corruption. That is why the constitution remains under attack most of the time. The custodians of the sacred document are its biggest agnostics. Most amendments are done to suit personal interests. The land of the pure has been under the control of the impure which must change to bring back purity.

After containing corruption, the crusade for competency has to be launched. We the first generation of Pakistan were raised with the notion that ‘crime never pays.’ Now we hear that, ‘behind every empire there is crime’. The coming generations of the country deserve better leadership that is both competent and honest as the founding fathers were. The era of loot, plunder and corrupt have to finally come to an end for the nation to move forward this will be our best gift to the nation. We must stand up against the coalition of the corrupt to move towards competent and honest leadership.


The Writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.