The Pandora Papers and the Corrupt Houdinis of Pakistan

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Pakistan has never reached, nor is ever likely to reach, the top 20, 50 or even 100 of Transparency International’s ranking of quasi-honest countries. At the last count, it was placed at 124 out of 180, reflecting Pakistan’s rotting governance.

F S Aijazuddin

ACCOUNTABILITY in Pakistan is an ineffective purgative. Despite it having been administered repeatedly since the first dose — The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 — it has never worked. Pakistan suffers from something more serious — what an early chronicler of Pakistan, Herbert Feldman in 1967 identified as “an insidious disease, difficult to trace in its early stages, difficult to check, and difficult to eradicate”.

The first attempt at ethical cleansing took place under Gen Ayub Khan in 1959 when over 95,000 public servants in Classes I, II and III were accused of corruption. Out of 2,800 in Class I, barely two per cent were convicted; out of 5,500 in Class II, only 1pc was convicted; and out of 87,000 in Class III, only 55 persons were punished. Such oily Houdini escapes set a tradition that has become the norm in public life.

Pakistan has never reached, nor is ever likely to reach, the top 20, 50 or even 100 of Transparency International’s ranking of quasi-honest countries. At the last count, it was placed at 124 out of 180, reflecting Pakistan’s rotting governance.

The Panama and Pandora revelations have been the result of ferreting by the Interna­tional Consortium of Investigative Journa­lists, a collaborative group infiltrating into an offshore underworld of financial chicanery.

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