The daunting challenge for Pakistan is to eradicate the evil of corruption from its land, as it is responsible for almost all challenges faced by the country today, including inflation, fiscal deficit and poor public infrastructure. Corruption cannot be eliminated, but it can be brought to such a minimum level that the local citizens are the least affected by it.
Inflation, the biggest issue of Pakistan, which has badly affected the day-to-day life of citizens, is an outcome of corruption. Inflation is caused when the demand for certain goods rises. In Pakistan, an increase in the demand for the dollar caused it. When the demand for foreign currency shoots up, the local currency is devalued. From 2008 to 2018, the black money obtained from corrupt practices laundered abroad in the form of a dollar. This practice continued and resulted in escalating the demand for the dollar in Pakistan. Consequently, the government printed more rupee and eventually the local currency devalued. The devaluation of the local currency made the import expensive, including oil, raising the overall prices of the items. Besides, the dollar deficit forced the country to approach the IMF for the loans. It is a known fact that IMF programs always come with some strings attached. It asked the government to raise certain taxes and further devalue the local currency. Thus, black money that was laundered through illegal channels is responsible for the recent inflation.
Another grave challenge for Pakistan, today, is a fiscal deficit and it is also a product of corruption. It is caused when the revenue collected through taxes and other forms is low and the expenditure is high. Low revenue is because of corrupt tax institutions that cooperate with the evaders for personal benefits. The expenditure is higher because more money is allocated to certain projects than it should be. Hence, low revenue and high expenditure are because of corruption.
Corruption is also responsible for poor public infrastructure including hospitals and schools. It can be judged from the fact that there is no decent public hospital, except NICVID, that is constructed or run by the state-of-art technology, despite receiving an adequate budget from the government. Owing to corrupt practices, poor material is used for the construction of almost all public infrastructures. Besides, the citizens are devoid of certain facilities in public hospitals, schools and transports.
The main culprit behind widening the gap between poor and rich, at an alarming rate in Pakistan, is also corruption. Some people, while sitting on the influential positions are making piles of black money and get them invested. Their investment makes them richer while the poor remain below the poverty line. Besides, the investment of this black money in real estate has skyrocketed the prices of residential houses and plots and made eligible only rich to enjoy better housing facilities.
The monster of corruption can be controlled to a certain extent, if proper measures are taken in the right direction. The campaign of accountability run by Imran Khan proved ineffective, as it stalled the economic activities of the country. Businessmen, out of fear of NAB or FIA, stopped investing their money and Bureaucrats refused to sign the files. Under these circumstances, the following measures must be taken to cure the country of the infection of corruption.
Firstly, the arrangement should be made to bring bureaucrats of good characters and a clean record to the top position in every department. There is no denying the fact that God-fearing officers, with a zero record of corruption, serve in almost all institutions. They are mostly sidelined, and the local politicians have appointed the most corrupt officers to key posts because they promise to give them their due share from illegally earned money. A team must be formed to hunt upright officers to be appointed to the key posts.
Secondly, there is an urgent need to bring reforms in the provincial Public Service Commissions because they are responsible for appointing new officers to run the administration of the country. Officers or other lower staff appointed on nepotism or favouritism basis are less likely to work for the betterment of the country. There is a consensus that the provincial Public Service Commissions are under the influence of some powerful individuals who get the officers selected on the non-merit basis. These officers, after being appointed on the key posts, serve the interest of these individuals, not the interest of the country and become their puppet and money-making machines. Thus, merit-based selection must be made the top priority by the government to fight the monster of corruption, and the war should begin from the Provincial Public Service Commissions.
Thirdly, the government must raise the salaries of government employees. At present, their salaries are not enough to meet their daily expenses. Even officers appointed through competitive examinations, cry for the lack of salaries. Many employees, therefore, justify their corruption on the pretext of poor salaries.
Fourthly, the existing colonial government institutions must be replaced by high-tech corporate system. Handwritten files and procedure must be taken over by computerised programs and the citizen should be given an option to directly approach the concerned department by submitting online applications and receiving its reply in the same way without needing to personally visit the office or meet the officials. The online system will bring corruption to the halt to a larger extent.
Finally, the government must strive to provide basic facilities like decent education and health free of cost to all the citizens. There should be no compromise on these facilities because private education and health institutions consume the major chunk of money of the employees and force them to indulge in illegal activities to afford it. Besides, the arrangement for fast, efficient and cheap transport must also be made for the civilians.
Thus, inflation, fiscal deficit and poor public infrastructure are caused by corruption, and it can be controlled by appointing upright people to the key posts, selecting new officers on merit, increasing their salaries, reforming institutions and providing them basic facilities.