Reckoning time in Chitral

13 Aug, 2018

.. by Islamuddin

The elections of 2018 are unique in the sense that these were fought on a single item agenda-corruption. Predictably the political alignments opposing corruption and committed to recover the stolen money won the elections. Parties known for encouraging corruption were voted out. It is unfortunate that politics being a normative science and regarded as superior one by its founder Plato was turned into a laughing stock in this land of the pure. Instead of using it for promoting high level morality and service to people our practitioners of politics made it a tool for amassing personal wealth and power. During the past few decades corruption and corrupt practices reached new heights and corrupt politicians tended to compromise on vital national interests for personal gains. When corruptions reaches such a level with impunity and threatens national survival, institutions responsible to protect national interests, have to come in to deliver on their oath and that has exactly happened. Fortunately this time over the entire nation is on the back of our Army, NAB and Judiciary and it is now up to them to redeem their honour and image, bruised by past mistakes, compromises and collusions.

The situation in Chitral is not much different. It started off its democratic journey in 1970 by electing Ataliq Jafar Ali Shah, who had played vital role in the State’s accession to Pakistan. Since then Chitral has elected many representatives but except a few almost all of them have come out without being tainted with corruption. They may not have done much for Chitral but they did protect its image by not indulging in corruption, as is borne out by their subsequent life styles. For them politics remained a vehicle for public service and earn fame rather than money, for which one should go into money market including business. Ideally speaking no businessman should be voted to elective office without ensuring that there was no conflict of interest. It is painful to hear that an elected representative has to justify his or her ill-gotten wealth saying that he or she earned it through business during incumbency, which in itself is illegal. The fact of the matter is that this unexplained wealth was made with kickbacks, commissions, selling of Government jobs and votes, especiaaly during Senate polls.

In Chitral’s folk heritage people are shamed by referring to them as “bezamunu” i.e the one sold out. Traditionally the person sold out was innocent and perhaps those doing it also had some explanation by way of state necessity but there is no explanation for our elected representatives for doing it except to make money. A greedy person having no sense of honour could not resist the temptation of money if elevated to parliament. A lady MPA had to be expelled from the party for allegedly selling her vote in Senate polls . It is a measure of our fall that other political parties take in tainted people. If such a party makes claims to fight corruption and allows a corrupt person to join it then one should question its credibility as an anti corruption party. If the buyer and seller turn out to be Chitralies we must do some soul searching to find out as to what caused this fall from grace. How much money one needs to live, after all on death shrouds do not have pockets? How much money one should have to buy respect and honour? None. Then why prefer money over honour? Salt is added to injury when a corrupt person is allowed to cling to power in the name of sect, ethnicity or any other consideration even if in the process the fair name of that identity is undermined, making its adherents more vulnerable and suspects in terms of integrity.

I remember a short story taught at school about greed. We were taught that greed was a curse. It blinded a human being making him incapable to see the truth or make rational choice. If a human being allows greed to drive him it would tantamount to selling one’s soul to the devil and any one making this bargain is bound to fall one day and this has exactly happened to many people in these polls. It is a Divine retribution because no human hand could have broken the shackles with which the Sicilian mafia had tied our hands and tapped out lips. Imran Khan was only a tool in the hands of the Divine. Allah has unique ways to work to achieve His purpose. It is heartening that this time our Establishment also allowed itself to be used by the Divine and this augurs well for the future of Pakistan. These polls have brought back the Divine grace and we should make the best use of it.

The battle has been won but not the war. Arrests and jails for the corrupt are not enough. Instead of putting them behind bars and incurring public funds for their security and maintenance, innovative methods should be devised to recover the stolen money and refurbish state coffers to take the country out of its present dire economic crunch. In Chitral state fund thefts have taken place in timber cutting, contracts kickbacks, ghost projects, sale of jobs and votes. As corruption godfather Mian Nawaz Sharif once said that ill-gotten wealth is not kept in one’s own name, therefore the investigations should extend to all relatives, friends and business partners of the corrupt.

While it is true that skilfull thieves donot leave behind trails of their corruption but mercifully NAB law has a provision which requires the accused to prove that assets are backed up by genuine sources of income and tax returns. In case the culprits fails to do so the assets are confiscated. This has happened in the case of Nawaz Sharif and should happen in the case of others including those under probe in Chitral, to which Income Tax laws stand extended. Molana Chitrali owes it to Chitral to institute and pursue the corruption cases that he has registered or will do in the future. If the MMA in Chitral succeeds in uprooting corruption, promoting meritocracy and improving governance it would have won the war for Chitral and earned abiding support of the people and blessings of Allah. .. Islamuddin, Garm Chashma Chitral 13 Aug 2018