Honesty in a Corrupt System: The Pessimist’s View!
It is not uncommon to hear people complaining about how Pakistan has never had honest leaders. My generation has grown up listening to the previous generation moan and complain about the rulers of Pakistan- and then go and vote for the same people in the next elections.
“It doesn’t matter who wins the elections, they’re all corrupt. There is nothing they’ll do for the common man.”
“They’re campaigning with such spirits just to get the votes. If you think they’ll remember you afterwards, you should wash your face. If that doesn’t work then drown yourself.”
“They have emptied the treasury and filled their own pockets. They are corrupt and I want to vote for none of them.” (But I’ll still manage to find some idiot who’s worse than the last idiot I voted for and then complain about him too- ahh life is NOT boring)
“What’s the point in hoping? There is no hope unless there is someone honest in the Kursi (Chair: represents a seat in the assembly).”
And just like many others from my own generation, I have often thought about how to get an honest-man-or-woman as the Head of State. The problem is: how long would that honest-man-or-woman survive as the head?
If an honest-to-God-man-or-woman makes it into the Prime Minister’s office (or the Presidency; whichever is ridiculously more powerful at that time), how would he-or-she survive without allowing corruption?
Traditionally, as in many other countries, the supreme ruler relies heavily on some people in their party. Now, in case of a country like Pakistan, this supreme ruler; therefore, has to bow down to many unjustified demands from those under him because they lend him great political strength.
Two of the most common/ popular cases are defined below:
- Monetary donations from an individual or group that contribute to the massive election campaign budgets. Sometimes, this donation comes after the promise of a nomination to some important government post, or some compromise that would benefit the donor group (and this donor is often incompetent for the nomination or is just plain corrupt).
- Confirmed seats in important constituencies in case the candidate is very popular in his region. In order to benefit from his popularity in a particular region- the party owning him has to often turn a blind eye to his less-than-honest behaviour or by promising him unfair opportunities to multiply his wealth.
Since, I do not belong to a political background myself; I am not well versed in ALL the ways a leader can be manipulated by those that he owes a favour to. However, the above two reasons will do fine to put things in perspective for us.
Now, the obvious question is: How long would the honest-man-or-woman survive in the office without allowing some corruption to take place right under his-or-her nose? The best he-or-she can do is to make sure that no body manages to bribe him-or-her. He-or-she can; perhaps, put pressure on some government institutes to do their jobs properly without corruption but even then he-or-she may have to stop that institute from working honestly in order to desperately (maybe even unwillingly) protect a political ally who had been naughty- and there are just so many of them. The best we can hope for is an honest-man-or-woman who would not try to benefit himself or his relatives from this position of great power and authority. And maybe just MAYBE- for once, the government would not interfere in Pakistan’s Cricket affairs.
You know how sometimes a dictator’s regime seems to bear more fruit than a democratic one? This could be because the dictator has to rely on fewer people. He can afford to step on more toes and if they complain- he can have those toes for breakfast- this is a disgusting world.
This honest leader, unlucky enough to make it to the top office would have to bear responsibility and therefore accountability for many things that he-or-she virtually has no authority over. Such an example is of the present-day Prime Minister: Yousaf Raza Gillani who was forced to admit in the parliament that he had to campaign for a fake-degree holding candidate in the local elections because he was “demanded” to do so by his party. Though, some would not be too happy with the idea of him being compared to an innocent or honest leader- the point is: even if he had been undisputedly an honest leader, he would still have had to do this wrong. An honest leader would be expected to resign on moral grounds after this show of weakness.
The shameful political death of an otherwise honourable person… A pity!
Fact is: even an honest leader would not have all honest friends and allies in this country any time soon. It would take decades to rid this country of those that make the honest-man-or-woman’s survival in this country difficult. Fault lies, as always, with the people themselves who give power to these Rackets. It is inexcusable that a nation repeatedly elects the same group of individuals that brought them nothing but poverty in their previous term.
Change will have to come from the grassroots. The people would have to stop giving power to the corrupt again and again.
OR we can hope for an honest and extremely clever leader who would be able to balance everything perfectly- and tactically guide the country out of her troubles without ruffling any feathers while at the same time laying foundations for a truly effective democratic system in the future… A child’s superhero fantasy?