WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MORAL BANKRUPTCY?

MILLIONS OF PEOPLE DIDN'T SACRIFICE TO CREATE A COUNTRY WHERE CORRUPTION WILL BE THE NAME OF THE GAME

SHABBIR H. KAZMI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Aug 20 - Sep 2, 20
12

The generations born after independence often ask why Muslims struggled for a separate country. Despite receiving numerous replies one question remained unanswered, if in India Muslims are assassinated by extremist Hindus, what is the religion of killers operating in Pakistan? Though, it is being said that those killing the innocents can't be termed Muslims, the killers claim to be more faithful followers of Islam. They also ask if Pakistan was created to save the masse from exploitation by 'Bania Raj' what is being done by feudal lords, industrialists and even by the elected representatives.

It is true that if one starts counting 'blessing of independence' those are numerous but it is also a fact that the legacy of 'colonial era' still continues as society is clearly dived into haves and have-nots. In fact over the last two decades rich have got richer and poor become poorer. More and more people have been pushed below the poverty line. Though, small pockets of 'filthy rich' are there millions of people don't get three meals and even clean drinking water.

According to international standards Pakistan comes in the list of poor countries because per capita income in still below US$1,200. However, this average number is completely misleading. On one end are those who earn more than US$50,000 but on the other end are those who don't get even $500. There is growing realization that less than 2% of Pakistan's population owns 98% wealth of the country. Though various land reforms have been implemented in the country elites own thousands of acres most fertile land, orchids spread over hundreds of acres and the entire area termed 'katcha' on the river banks. The irony is that while salaried class is paying taxes through its nose, landlords continue to enjoy tax free income. Over the years tax could not be imposed on agriculture income because it would hurt the small farmers. The law has continued because legislative is dominated by feudal lords and farmers turned industrialists.

Two of Pakistan's agro-based industries textile and sugar are virtually in the hands on feudal lords, also the members of legislative. Interestingly politicians belong to political parties; irrespective of sitting on treasury or opposition benches own most of the units. This became possible due era of both the dictatorial and democratic regimes. Permissions to set up textile and sugar mills were given as 'political bribe' and positions were fortified through SRO based lending. While the sponsors have thrived, DFIs like ADBP, NDFC, PICIC and ICP went virtually bankrupt. Bulk of the non-performing loans, despite billions of rupees loans written of still pertain to textile and sugar industries.

One may not have any objection on lending of money to 'rich' but the only regret is that bulk of the population does not have access to credit as farmers are still borrowing from informal operators. On the face value it looks very encouraging that lending to agriculture sector crossed Rs300 billion during FY12. However, insiders say that bulk of the amount has been lent to feudal lords, who have used the money to buy expensive cars and properties in urban areas. On tend to agree with the critics because of expensive cars being sold in cash and prices of urban properties sky rocketing. Prices of three-bed apartments in posh areas of Karachi and Lahore are hovering Rs10 million, whereas katchi abadis are proliferating because low cost housing units are no longer constructed in the country.

A visit to shopping malls and food courts, watching number of expensive cars plying on roads, quantity of motor gasoline and CNG used clearly indicate the disparity. Public transport being used by poor is not only highly depleted but often overloaded. Sale of motors cycles is on the rise not because people have gone richer but because travelling in public transport has become almost impossible for the 'middle class'. In fact this middle class is vanishing fast because those learning ways of corruption are becoming richer and those who still consider bribery 'haram' are becoming least concern. That is the reason the society is becoming 'morally bankrupt'.

In any country government is responsible for education, healthcare and operating utilities. However, in Pakistan the annual allocation for education is less than the kitchen expenses of Prime Minister House and presidency. Government owned hospitals are incapable of handling OPDs and those admitted in general wards. Food in these wards is being distributed by charitable organizations but people have to buy medicines and even syringes. Utilities are being sold to private sector in the name of deregulation, liberalization and privatization. Still state owned enterprises (SoEs) eat up over Rs300 billion annually due to mismanagement and corruption. Political activists are given jobs in SoEs and the two most naked examples are Pakistan Steel Mills and PIA. There is no exception activists of all the political parties are there. There is nothing wrong in giving jobs to political activists but they must also be told to work.

Since people on the top are involved in corruption, the contentious disease is being passed on to even the lowest levels. Corrupt officials are being posted at key positions so that they could collect 'booty' for their godfathers. One feels highly disgusted that the man who was alleged for rental power scam is now the prime minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. But he is not alone the entire society has become morally bankrupt and just does not wish to listen about 'halal' and 'haram'. Its only motive is 'paisa kaphay'.