Impact of corruption on our society

 

By Shakil Ahmad | The writer is a retired secretary of the Government of Pakistan. He is a member of the former Civil Service of Pakistan.

To a varying degree, corruption exists in almost all countries. However, the degree to which it impacts the common people’s lives and increases poverty is directly proportional to the level of this scourge and how widespread it is in society. A country’s or province’s development depends on how much of the State’s resources are lost to this ugly practice. In developed countries, where corruption is limited to a small number of projects and where common people do not encounter it on a daily basis, the adverse impact tends to be marginal and does not jeopardise the welfare of its people. In contrast, a poor country like Pakistan, where each borrowed dollar must be spent to uplift the people from poverty, it has a significant impact.

A recent World Bank report lists corruption and lack of transparency as the two core reasons that hamper Pakistan’s drive for development. However, these indices do not convey the terrible pain and sufferings that the brutal practice of corruption has caused to the common people of Pakistan.

Many people in Pakistan believe that much of the development and a significant portion of the operations’ allocations are lost due to bribery and other related illegal and unethical activities. The extreme poverty and lack of infrastructure and basic services in the rural areas of Sindh and Balochistan are in part fuelled by bribery, influence peddling, extortion, and abuse of power. The people and international donors must rise to the occasion and start pressurising Islamabad to curtail corruption and improve governance.

Failure to do so in a timely manner will continue to frustrate the poor people and make them weary of the current democratic system and drive them to extremism.

It is a widely held view that the practice of bribery in Pakistan is widespread, systematic, and that it is entrenched at all levels of government. A World Bank report containing an assessment of the Pakistan’s Infrastructure Capacity (PICA) states that 15 percent of the country’s development budget for 2007-08 was lost in the procurement process alone due to corruption. This does not include subsequent costs of corruption in the implementation and maintenance stages of projects. Important business publications such as World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2007-08) says that corruption is the third greatest problem for companies doing business in Pakistan.

The report lists the first two problems as government bureaucracy and poor infrastructure. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says that the World Bank and the Auditor General of Pakistan have complained about governance problems in recruitment, site selection, absenteeism and bribery. This has resulted in the cancellation or suspension of some of the World Bank’s projects such as the Balochistan Primary Education Project. Also, certain other loans were withheld after irregularities were uncovered.

Corruption is bound to flourish in a culture that encourages display of affluence without any regard as to how the wealth has been obtained. Lack of accountability plays a crucial role in the promotion of bribery and resistance to any form of reform.

To fully respond to the question as to which sectors are most affected by corruption, both quantitative and qualitative, it is worth bearing in mind that some of the reasons for which particular sectors are highlighted more often than others are due not only to objective merits, but also to the facts that:

p There is more research and survey work done in those areas, and;

p Public perception and awareness seem to be more vocal as regards those areas.

Thus, the exercise of highlighting some of the sectors should be read with the knowledge that corruption in Pakistan seems pervasive across most sectors. With that in mind, it is safe to say that expert sources indicate that the sectors among those most affected by it are the police and law enforcement, judiciary and legal profession, power sector, tax and customs, health and education, and land administration

In addition, public procurement seems to be a major concern across most sectors

These sectors seem to be affected by chains of:

p Petty corruption to access public services or to bypass the law (through the direct interaction of citizens with the respective authorities and bribe-paying).

p Middle and grand corruption (in public contracting and procurement as well as direct misappropriation of public funds by senior officials).

p Political patronage, conflicts of interest, influence peddling and other forms of corrupt behaviour are commonplace across the sectors.

The following are some examples of the damage that is caused by corruption: Defective, dangerous and inadequate infrastructure – poor and incomplete roads, badly constructed college buildings, fewer class rooms in schools that are liable to collapse with the first monsoon rains, railway tracks, hospital facilities, water projects, bridges or housing units. Abysmal education standards result when illiterate persons are recruited as school teachers for political reasons.

Many schools all over the country remain without teachers or fewer teachers to effectively educate students. More so, it is futile to talk about technical and engineering schools and the standards they have established. After three years of studies, neither the teacher nor his student knows the use of a drill machine.

Corrupt practices contribute to the inadequate number of beds in hospitals, no medicines for patients, as these are paid for but not procured or disposed of after their delivery at the hospital store. And, of course, there is no fuel in vehicles meant for transporting patients to hospitals. Most experts think that corruption is one of the most difficult problems in Pakistan’s society today. Its impact on the country’s towns and villages is extremely profound and poses a long-term threat to its culture, economics, and general well being of the people and the provinces where they reside.

The future of Pakistan and alleviation of poverty in rural areas of Pakistan is highly dependent on successful completion of all development projects. This success is threatened by the evil of greasing the palm that must be stopped urgently before it is too late. The religious extremism, deteriorating economic conditions, and worsening living conditions are unnerving the people of rural Sindh and Baluchistan, who until now have refused to fall in the trap of extremism.

It is imperative that all stakeholders, including political parties, government officials, civil society organisations, private companies, donor agencies and common people, recognise the carnage that current levels of corruption can do to the heartlands of Pakistan. They must form a grand coalition to stop the menace before it is too late.

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Fighting shy

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Shekhar Gupta

           PAF Crest                                                                                           

The standout news story of this week was this newspaper’s defence correspondent Manu Pubby’s on the note of regret that a former Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter pilot sent out to the daughter of a distinguished Indian pilot whose defenceless civilian transport aircraft he shot down on the last day of the 22-day war of 1965. The Pakistani pilot’s note was unusual, as such sentiments are not usually expressed in this perennially hostile relationship, even if the hint of regret, if any, was entirely qualified. In brief, on the last day of that pointless war of attrition, or rather a war of competitive military incompetence, a Beechcraft owned by the Gujarat government was shot down by a Pakistani Sabre jet in Gujarat, inside Indian territory.

Its eight unfortunate occupants, besides the crew and a Gujarat Samachar reporter, included the then Gujarat chief minister Balwantrai Mehta and his wife. Mehta, a Congress stalwart, thus became the first, and only, politician ever to be killed in wartime action in the subcontinent. The note of the Pakistani pilot, Qais Hussain, has given us the chance of revisiting a question that has never been debated freely in India. That question is, just how well, or poorly, did the Indian Air Force (IAF) do in the war of 1965? For nearly half a century now, India has nurtured a mythology consciously constructed during and in the aftermath of that war: the mythology of the Indian superiority in air, of the little Gnat’s invincibility, and so on. A part of that myth-making was also, and one has to be very careful saying that given how much respect three generations of Indians, including this writer, have held him in, the lionising, subsequently, of the then air chief, Air Marshal Arjan Singh. (A wonderful pilot and leader, he remains the only IAF officer to be elevated to the rank of Marshal of the Air Force).

This latest revelation now attacks that carefully cultivated mythology. Military history is serious business. It is also brutal. Because not only is the early history mostly written by the winner (which none was in 1965, overall), it also rarely resembles the purple prose of the gallantry citations. The simple question is, what kind of control over our own airspace did we have that a PAF Sabre was loitering inside and shot down a civilian VIP aircraft?

Of course, no air force can guarantee that not even a single enemy aircraft would be able to enter its airspace unchallenged. But, nearly a half-century after that inconclusive war there is no harm taking a more robust and questioning view of what exactly happened then, in the air, and of how we were able to create such a fictional history afterwards. It is one thing for the Pakistanis to build such mythologies, and then perpetuate these through chapters in school textbooks. But in India, we should have exhibited better sense of inquiry, and self-questioning. If we fought that war in the air as well as we believe, how come we lost 75 aircraft to Pakistan’s 28? As many as 37 of our losses were on the ground, compared with eight of the PAF (claimed to have been) destroyed by us. This only underlines that the PAF did a much better job of attacking rival airbases than us.

 

On the very first day of that war, the IAF opened the campaign losing all four of the Vampires (then possibly the slowest moving jet fighter in the world) sent out to help our beleaguered army units in Chhamb. Why these totally vulnerable (and by then not combat-worthy) aircraft were sent out when better options were available, is not a question that has often been asked by Indian military historians.

This was followed by three other disasters that set the IAF back rudely in that war. Three days into the war, on September 6, eight PAF Sabres attacked the Pathankot airbase, bristling with combat activity. The base commanders somehow ignored even warnings from Amritsar radar (conveyed over the phone) and neither scrambled fighters, nor dispersed aircraft on the ground. The Sabres fired unchallenged, and India lost 10 aircraft on the ground, including two of our most vaunted MiG-21s — out of the nine that had so far arrived as our first half-strength supersonic squadron. This loss of 10 was then followed by another 10 in WW II-style, brave, but chaotic, raids over Sargodha. The Pakistanis, of course, made highly exaggerated claims and celebrate that day, September 6, as Defence of Pakistan Day and hold triumphal military parades. But the fact is that on this day the IAF suffered severe losses, followed by more self-inflicted (through command indecision) losses on the ground as the PAF attacked our eastern airfields.

It is now a well-documented fact by non-official historians that the IAF had planned pulverising raids on Pakistani air assets in the east and had even launched fully loaded aircraft, which were called back when they had the targets in their bomb-sites and Delhi got nervous about irritating the Chinese. The PAF Sabres came more or less on the tail of the returning IAF formations, hitting almost all the major IAF bases in the east, particularly West Bengal. Surely, the IAF did much in subsequent days to restore the balance. Its gallant defence of Halwara and Adampur in Punjab resulted in the PAF stopping daylight raids on its air bases, for example. Some of its Gnat and Hunter squadrons demonstrated they had the measure of the Pakistanis, in tactics as well as skill. There was no dearth of courage, ever. One story you can reconstruct with pride is of an audacious plan to lure out the Sabres into combat after the very first loss of the four Vampires. Because it was presumed that the PAF was greedy over the prospect of shooting slow-moving Vampires, a formation of slow and large Mysteres was led by Wing Commander W.M. Goodman to lure the Sabres, with Squadron Leader Johnny Greene’s formation of six Gnats lurking behind them. Sure enough, the Sabres took the “bait” and gave the IAF its first two successes of that war even as the Mysteres exited safely. But, overall, the PAF had greater sway over the skies in daytime. And at night, they pretty much had a free run as the IAF fighters were not night-capable.

The IAF and the defence establishment have avoided facing that truth. This, in spite of the fact that 1971 marked the IAF’s finest hour. It attacked relentlessly, never suffered a setback, and never yielded the PAF any space. In India, we only have to be grateful to two young writer-researchers, P.V.S. Jagan Mohan and Samir Chopra (The India-Pakistan Air War of 1965, Manohar, 2006, Rs 895) who have put together a remarkably accurate and honest history of the 1965 war we have tried hard to forget. But which this part confession by a Pakistani pilot has now brought back to us.

Postscript: Wing Commander M.S.D. (Mally) Wollen was commanding the still forming MiG-21 squadron in that war. He had the mortification of seeing his MiG blown up on the ground at Pathankot, even as he jumped into a water tank, in full flying livery, to duck the strafing Sabres. Earlier he had fired both his missiles at a Pakistani Sabre from an impossible angle and rued the fact that the first MiGs did not have any cannons on them. I was privileged to have a conversation with him in Shillong in 1982 when, now an Air Marshal, he commanded the Eastern Air Command. A couple of new books had just been published on the air war of 1965 (notably John Fricker’s very loaded, pro-Pakistani account) and I asked him what went wrong in 1965.

 

Wollen spoke with honesty not common to the Indian military establishment. He said, of course, things had gone wrong and we had analysed why. Why, he asked, did some squadrons with the same aircraft do very well and some poorly? That’s because a fighting squadron is just about 16 pilots. In any group of 16 people, he said, you would find a few that would be totally fearless and competent, a few who would become fearless again in the company of these, and the rest who would then be simply positively overwhelmed by this peer pressure. The IAF realised, he said, that in the rush of the post-1962 expansion, its fighter squadrons were not properly balanced. Some had too many of his first category, and did brilliantly, and some had too few and did poorly. On that cold Shillong evening, I learnt a lesson in leadership and team management as relevant to our humdrum civilian lives as to the military. The key to success lies in distributing the best people evenly amongst all your teams. This was addressed, and the history of 1971 was entirely different.

Video: Deaths of SEAL Team 6 Exposed

 

Posted on Pakalert on August 7, 2011

[


Aaron Dykes & Alex Jones
Infowars.com

Associated Press sources are reporting a statistically impossible tragedy for U.S. forces in Afghanistan– that of the 38 NATO forces killed in a helicopter crash Friday night, “more than 20″ were members of SEAL Team 6, the covert unit that took credit for killing Osama bin Laden in May.

Mainstream sources are seizing upon claims that the Taliban took credit for downing the helicopter, but that means nothing. Media instantly ran reports that al Qaeda was responsible for the bombing & shootings in Norway; moreover, anyone on a message board can make such claims.

Instead, Alex Jones predicted shortly after the raid on bin Laden’s compound that SEALs would soon be reported dead in a helicopter crash or staged incident following multiple reports from military sources who’ve proved accurate in the past, including on-air callers, that SEALs did indeed die during the raid. Official stories admitted after-the-fact that a helicopter went down during the mission, but claimed there were no deaths of U.S. forces.

Below is Alex’s report on the breaking news of SEAL Team 6′s official demise:

Infowars is on the record reporting that members of Seal Team 6 died in the so called OBL raid. The government admits that a super secret helicopter did crash during the OBL raid but says no one died, our intel is different. We predicted that the spin doctors would stage a crash or when a real crash took place that they would say the SEALs died then. This is a old trick that governments all over the world have been caught pulling in the past. Some speculate that Obama had the team killed to cover up what really happened; however our intel does not point that way. The Pentagonmay have blown the helicopter up on the ground on the night of the raid and we cover that in the above video. Lastly the globalist MSM is reporting that terroristhave taken credit but that is notoriously filled with disinfo, like in the Norway attack when a fake terrorist group took credit and the media ran with it.

According to the sources, military personnel internally admit to the SEAL deaths, however it was not clear whether it had been the result of an accidental crash, from a firefight with Pakistani military forces stationed only a short distance from the compound, or whether, as Pakistani eyewitnesses indicated (below), the helicopter exploded after covert forces entered.

Whatever the true story, one thing is clear: dead men tell no tales. The inconvenient truth is that governments throughout history have disposed of heroes, covert troops and special forces to keep the real story from coming out. Helicopter and plane crashes have been one of the favorite methods for tying up these loose ends.

Abbottabad residents told CCTV reporters they don’t believe Osama bin Laden was ever at this compund and that the operation was a ‘hoax’. Pakistan’s anti-terrorist squad also could not confirm the killing, according to reports.

Pakistani eyewitnesses to the Abbottabad raid on Osama’s reputed compound reported that a U.S. helicopter exploded and that Americans died, despite the fact that mainstream media reports claimed no one died in the raid. The crash was reported but remains little explained.

As Dr. Paul Craig Roberts presciently dredged up again only yesterday:

In the immediate aftermath of bin Laden’s alleged murder by the SEALs, Pakistani TV interviewed the next door neighbor to bin Laden’s alleged compound. Someone supplied the video with an Englishtranslation running at the bottom of the video. According to the translation, the next door neighbor, Mr. Bashir, said that he watched the entire operation from the roof of his house. There were 3 helicopters. Only 1 landed. About a dozen men got out and entered the house. They shortly returned and boarded the helicopter. When the helicopter lifted off it exploded, killing all aboard. Mr. Bashir reports seeing bodies and pieces of bodies all over.

The US government acknowledges that it lost a helicopter, but claims no one was hurt. Obviously, as there were no further landings, if everyone was killed as Mr. Bashir reports, there was no body to be dumped into the ocean.

SEAL Team 6 was formally dissolved in 1987, becoming the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, with its command structure transferred to Joint Special Operations Command. The unit’s true nature and even numbers are unknown.

This May 17 Navy Times article would revise the official account of events, admitting to the crash incident:

Aboard two Black Hawk helicopters were 23 SEALs, an interpreter and a tracking dog named Cairo. Nineteen SEALs would enter the compound, and three of them would find bin Laden, one official said, providing the exact numbers for the first time.

Aboard the Chinooks were two dozen more SEALs, as backup.

[…] The plan unraveled as the first helicopter tried to hover over the compound. The Black Hawk skittered around uncontrollably in the heat-thinned air, forcing the pilot to land. As he did, the tail and rotor got caught on one of the compound’s 12-foot walls. The pilot quickly buried the aircraft’s nose in the dirt to keep it from tipping over, and the SEALs clambered out into an outer courtyard.

[…] It took approximately 15 minutes to reach bin Laden, one official said. The next 23 or so were spent blowing up the broken chopper, after rounding up nine women and 18 children to get them out of range of the blast.

Gift of blood ends a Pakistani town’s bloody history

By Rick Westhead
South Asia Bureau

BASTI MAHRAN, PAKISTAN—A single act of kindness, profound because it was so rare and unexpected, transformed this sun-bleached village in a remote corner of the Punjab.

A Hindu man gave his blood to save the life of a Muslim woman who had lost too much in childbirth.
In the seven years since, the 1,600 Muslims and 1,400 Hindus in this town live in peaceful co-existence, extraordinary because sectarian violence has marked the histories of Pakistan and India since the bloody partition of 1947.

“I was afraid, for sure. But it was the right thing to do,” says Bachu Ram, the blood donor. He is smoking a cigarette in the home of a Muslim village elder, who once was so steeped in hatred that he led the charge on the clinic to take Ram’s life.
Hatred and violence once defined life in Basti Mahran. Muslim men routinely raped Hindu girls — “we would have 20 cases a year,” says one local. Muslim men beat Hindus with sticks and fists, seemingly with tacit approval of the local police. Cattle belonging to Hindu families were slaughtered if they strayed too close to Muslim homes.

Mahar Abdul Latif, the host who now pours Ram tea, spent three years during the late 1990s as a member of the extremist religious group Jaish-e-Mohammad. He patrolled the rugged mountain passes and valleys of Kashmir, a region claimed both by India and Pakistan, killing Hindus when they crossed his path.
“I have done much I am ashamed of,” says Latif, a 37-year-old father of three. “But we are friends now. Our kids are friends, too. They study and play together.”

Latif and other local Muslims gave their time and money last year to refurbish a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Hanuman. Muslims visit the temple when their neighbours celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Hindus respond in kind, joining in Muslim holiday celebrations.
This village’s transformation seems to have happened in a moment.

The medical clinic was only open for a three-day health-care blitz when the young mother arrived suffering from severe blood loss and needing an infusion of O-negative blood. The doctors couldn’t find a donor.
Ram made his offer. As word spread among the village’s Muslims, Latif led the charge on the clinic. It had always incensed him that the doctors rejected his demand for two separate camps, partitioned facilities so that instruments used on Hindus could not be used on Muslims.

Outside the clinic, a doctor intercepted Latif and told him the only chance the woman had was Ram.
“I don’t know what came over me,” Latif says. “I remember thinking that here we were refusing to even shake hands with the Hindus and he was willing to give us his blood. It was a marvelous thing he did. It was the turning point of my life.”
The next day, Latif went to say thank you. It’s said to be the first time a Muslim had ever gone to a Hindu’s home.
Word of Ram’s charity and Latif’s remorse spread through Basti Mahran.

Muslim and Hindu women began talking to each other. Rapes virtually disappeared. Eventually, a single tin-roofed cowshed was built to house all of the village’s 3,000 cows, sheltering them from the scorching desert sun.
“That was a big deal,” Ram says. “Before, you would not see the cows near each other at all. A Muslim would not have touched the milk from a cow owned by Hindus.”

Standing in Basti Mahran’s round, thatch-roofed Hindu temple, 65-year-old Sobha Ram says he can’t believe the changes in the village.
“For years, we lived in fear of the Muslims but not now,” he says, cleaning photos of Hindu gurus and adjusting strings of paper flowers and glitter paper.
The odds seemed against peace in this village.

In 1947, the year of partition, Hindus made up 15 per cent of Pakistan’s population. But soon many migrated to India, seeking a better, safer life. The same happened with Muslims who lived in India and moved west.
Political leaders seemed ready to highlight the differences between the cultures, rather than their many similarities.
“The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literature,” said Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founding father. “They neither intermarry, nor interdine together, and indeed they belong to two different civilizations.”

Today, just 2 per cent of Pakistan’s 170 million residents are Hindu.
Yet the Hindus in Basti Mahran didn’t seek refuge elsewhere.
“We were born here and we don’t know anyone in India. Even though we are Hindu, we are still Pakistani,” says Sobha Ram. “The few people who did want to go couldn’t afford it.”

The changes have had a direct impact on the quality of life, and have helped earn better incomes.
Hindu and Muslim women are working together to sell cotton to wholesaling middlemen, earning 200 rupees ($2.50) for a 40-kilogram bag of cotton, four times what they earned when they sold their cotton separately.
“You even see women travelling together unaccompanied by men to places like Lahore and Islamabad,” says Razia Malik, an aid worker who has spent time in Basti Mahran.

Communal harmony aside, it’s still a difficult life here.
Each morning, women set out in stifling 40-degree heat on a four kilometre-walk to collect the day’s drinking water. Cows have to be shepherded eight kilometres daily to their water supply.

Most don’t have enough money for feed for their cows, which graze on the Spartan green bushes that dot the desert plains.
Now that they aren’t fighting each other, Basti Mahran’s Muslim and Hindus are working to demand a new road through the village and they have asked the state government to extend water pipes here. Last year, they successfully lobbied for power lines that provide electricity for at least 12 hours a day.

“We’ve been so wrong about the Hindus,” Latif says, watching his 7-year-old son Osama play alongside Ram’s 11-year-old boy Sindhal Ram. “The biggest surprise has been that they are just like us. They want to live their lives the same way we do.”