By Mahmoodullah Khan
A trip by any Karachi mosques on a Friday afternoon in Pakistan is an awe inspiring spectacle of cars in every denomination from the very basic to the super luxury, one is obviously drawn to the conclusion that piety is certainly rampant and yet later in the evening should you by chance be invited to a social gathering, the same set of cars minus very basic ones would be jammed in much the same way as at the mosque, atmosphere inside would be stupendously decadent, expensive spirits and cigars, provocatively dressed ladies clad in diamonds and exotic perfumes. So what is in between these two extremities, the medium over which one can swim, walk or fly justifying such diverse lifestyles in the span of a single day or more specifically one versatile character.
When you get to talking with them about the abysmal state of the economy, they say, hold on don’t point fingers at us, we are not corrupt it’s the other guys, those politicians are up to no good, it’s the bureaucrats who are playing the system and taking bribes, the army generals might be indulging in kickbacks, we are absolutely clean. How is it that we belong to the lowest wrung of nations when it comes to corruption, where is this corruption taking place, certainly it is taking place across the board, every transaction is rife with corruption. It has to be part of our national psyche for us to have descended as a nation to the lowest of the low.
This greed for wealth and lust for power emanates after Friday prayers with renewed vigor to grab at every opportunity provided by our respective positions whether it be on the receiving end or giving end. If you are standing on door side of the table it is known as speed money necessary to get the file moving, if you are sitting on the decider side of table, it is considered a right to accumulate wealth while you can since that is how the system works.
Whatever the circumstances we are quick to absolve ourselves and point fingers towards others and make haste towards the mosque not only to cleanse ourselves of the evil that we have indulged in, but also to show off to prospective whistleblowers of our standards of honesty and belief in the faith and it’s tenets including blackened foreheads a testament of our angelic spiritualism. Any talk of relaxation in strict observance of the dogma is considered sacrilegious. All the while maintaining this impenetrable facade behind which they are committing unforgivable crimes against the poor masses of this nation, in their dereliction of duty, embezzlement causing projects to become unviable, making the entire system corrupt, setting a bad example for others to follow. Keeping a check on others doesn’t mean that you fall into the same pit of corruption and fraud.
Now that corruption is so embedded into the system there is no way to extract ourselves from it without bringing it to a stop, so let’s learn to live with it. Absolutely that is exactly what we have been doing for the past two decades and we are experiencing results of this experiment, total financial bankruptcy, food shortages, no climate change mitigation plans, we are at the mercy of international donors and loan agencies. Despite this when it comes to living standards of our leaders they could easily compete with Arab sheiks, their palaces, cars, jets and helicopters, properties abroad are just as dazzling with no income to show except for skimming from international grants, loans and project funding, shameful to say the least. Arabs have oil wealth, which they have invested intelligently into revenue
generating infrastructure, it is from that earning they are able to display their opulence. What about us? What do we have? Except for expensively equipped defense forces and nuclear assets. Well, if that is what we have to put on the line then we better start finding buyers while they still hold some value.