From control to corruption


Dr Farid A Malik |

Control of the democratic process has resulted in massive political corruption that we have to deal with today. Controlled democracy does not work. It has been repeatedly tried but with poor results. In Ataturk’s modern Turkish Republic, the army was allowed a constitutional role in running and taking over the reins of the government. Mustafa Kamal was the last Muslim General to win a war. In 1915, he defeated the Allied Forces of Britain, Australia and New Zealand at Gallipoli forcing them to retreat after heavy losses with 44000 casualties and 97000 injured soldiers. He then founded the Republic after toppling his own caliph thereby ending the Islamic Caliphate that ruled from Istanbul. Under him the capital was then shifted to Ankara.

Like Pakistan, Turkey remained in the pits mainly due to the Ataturk Controls. In 1981, I drove through the Republic which was under martial law with its resultant mess. There was load shedding with shortages of gas and water. The modern state claimed to be secular but in fact it was anti-religious. Perhaps our fourth dictator Pervez Musharraf who spent time in Turkey learnt about enlightened moderation there.  It was during his regime that the country had to face similar load shedding and shortages of gas and water.

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Then in 1994, a young Tayib Erdogan was elected Mayor of Istanbul. He turned the city around. On my next visit to Istanbul in 1995, the improvements were visible. He worked with zeal, honesty and dedication to establish his political credentials. Purely on the basis of his performance, he was elected Prime Minister in 2003. Now he had the chance of replicating the Istanbul model nationwide. Under him Turkey emerged as an economic power of Europe, it came out of sickness. Based on his service to the nation he decided to challenge the Ataturk control. The Generals reacted; he dismissed them and put them to trial. Today Turkey is a real democracy where the ballot rules. Erdogan stands out as a popular leader in the Islamic world.

Kaptaan has an uphill task to fight corruption which is so rampant that it has become a way of life. Once he is able to overcome this menace inflicted through controls he will be in a position to introduce the needed structural changes for democracy to flourish. It is the start of the Erdogan transition, first deliver and then challenge the control. In the words of Bhutto, Pakistan was achieved through a democratic struggle unlike Turkey that owes its existence to the military victory at Gallipoli under General Mustafa Kamal. Erdogan had to face constitutional restrictions while we have a unanimous 1973, document, we only need to clean it up and follow.

Corruption in Pakistan is a symptom not a cause of a disease that has originated elsewhere. With ten manipulated ballots from 1977, to 2017, democracy remains hijacked. Only a credible ballot can take us forward. There are voices to question the legitimacy of the recently held electoral exercise in July 2018. All complaints must be handled properly, the remedial processes should not be blocked as was done in 2013, through court stays as it will hurt democracy.

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The corrupt in the system will gang up and fight back to save their loot. Those who entered politics to make money will not quietly exit; they will have to be pushed out but through an effective, credible process. However, control and more control is not the answer, it only produces corruption

The first cabinet of Pakistan was appointed by the Quaid himself from amongst the genuinely elected legislators in the 1946, elections. Political corruption was contained till the elected leadership remained at the helm. It was the Khaki-Baboo nexus that introduced corruption in the corridors of power in 1951, after the assassination of the first elected PM NawabzadaLiaquat Ali Khan who did not even have a house to live in. The same pattern was repeated after the judicial murder of the second elected PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB). Only genuinely elected governments serve their people with honesty and dedication, the rest treat it as an opportunity to make money by indulging in corruption.

Most political parties are now infested with corrupt politicians including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) the party in power. The only difference being in leadership, while the top is corrupt in case of PML-N and PPP it is not in case of PTI. Kaptaan believes that the fish rots at the head, but how will he deliver with a rotten base only time will tell. Once the genie of corruption is back in the bottle will he be able to focus on the root causes of this menace which remains to be seen.

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The corrupt in the system will gang up and fight back to save their loot. Those who entered politics to make money will not quietly exit; they will have to be pushed out but through an effective, credible process. However, control and more control is not the answer, it only produces corruption. In the words of the Red Shirt leader Wali Khan, we never blamed our opponent Qayum Khan for corruption our differences were ideological. Political parties are built around ideologies not personal cults. PPP was founded in 1967, by Bhutto for progressive politics, when Zardari indulged in corruption the party was wiped out. By contrast PMNL-N is a coalition of interests to make money that is why it is in crisis now. PTI promises to deliver ‘Naya Pakistan’ that is free of corruption. Hopefully Kaptaan will keep his focus and deliver but unless controls are removed corruption will stay. Adherence to constitution and rule of law is the way forward, down with the control that breeds corruption.

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. Email: [email protected] This Article was first published in Daily Times