Coruption in Pakistan

Categories: Pakistan



Corruption is a ‘poison’ which squanders the government resources, deters investment and is detrimental to economic growth and political development. It flourishes, if people in authority are dishonest and corrupt, the state institutes are weak, and there is a political instability, financial control, lack of transparency in governance and disregard of the rule of law.

It can be curbed if there is honest leadership, meritocracy, financial control, decentralization, vibrant civil society and media, transparency and rule of law.


We, in Pakistan are breathing in a culture which, for no better description can be called as the culture of corruption. It has permeated into every facet of our life. Not a single institution is without its black sheep whose number is ever on the increase. Corruption means “dishonesty or illegal behaviour, especially of people in authority.” A common definition of corruption is “the use of public office for private gains”. As a matter of fact; we seem to be developing Immunity towards corruption.

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Indulgence in corruption is no longer looked upon as an immoral or shameful act. Rather a person who does not avail the opportunity to amass wealth is regarded as either a coward or a fool. The cultural cycle is complete and we are in the grip of its spiral. Religion and moral codes or examples of earlier heroes of honesty have failed to produce any healthy influence.


Currently, according to Transparency International, Pakistan is the 46th country in the index of corrupt nations.

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According to calculations performed by Transparency International, Pakistan has lost an unbelievably higher amount, more than Rs8.5 trillion (US $94 billion), in corruption, tax evasion and bad governance during the last four years of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani’s tenure. An adviser of Transparency International acknowledged that “Pakistan does not need even a single penny from the outside world if it effectively checks the menace of corruption and ensures good governance”. The Transparency International also noted that the four years of the present regime under Gilani had been the worst in terms of corruption and bad governance in the country’s history. Pakistan’ position is worse than almost all its immediate neighbours.


Corruption is not something new. There have been periods in the subcontinent when corruption was rampant such as under British East India Company (1757-1857), when there was almost anarchy in the northeast of the subcontinent. Soon after the revolt of 1857, when the authority was transferred from the East India Company to the British Crown, corruption decreased because the British government concentrated on better governance by building institutions, such as executive and legislative councils, an efficient judiciary, bureaucracy and military. But after independence in 1947, these institutions suffered a decline in efficiency and accountability causing an increase in corruption. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his inaugural address to the constituent assembly on August 11, 1947, had warned that bribery and corruption is a Poison and “we must put that down with an iron hand.”

Unfortunately, the corruption practices have increased to an intolerable proportion and have assumed the gravity of a cancer. Dr Ilhan Niazi, in his book, “The Culture of Power and Governance of Pakistan 1947-2008” has dealt with the corruption. As early as 1950, the Lahore High Court found the Chief Minister of the Punjab ‘guilty of corruption, abuse of power and obstruction of justice’ because he had illegally acquired evacuee land for himself. After the demise of the first Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan (1947-51) in 1951, a period of weak governments followed. As many as six prime ministers were changed during the next seven years (1951-58), followed by military dominated government (1958-71).


Petty corruption: includes nepotism and favoritism.

Routine corruption: involves common malpractices such as Gifts and Parties to get a favour.

Chronic corruption: involves shameful patronization and

promotion of all sorts of corrupt deals.


Corruption has crept to every department of the country. Police, Judiciary, WAPDA, Education, Health, C&W, Customs and Excise income tax (FBR), Accountant General Officials, Army Officers, PTA, Journalism and wherever public dealing is involved. Federal and provincial governments do corruption in awarding contracts in privatization, the collection of import quota, the regulation of cartels e.g. The last Sugar Crises in the country.


The basic ingredients of corruption are summarized by Kitgaard in a formula: “Corruption = Monopoly + Discretion – Accountability”
Following are the main causes of corruption in Pakistan:-

Rehabilitation and Settlement of the Refugees:-

In Pakistan, with its inception, Corruption originated from the rehabilitation and settlement of the refugees, those who had the zeal and zest of national service from the sense of dedication, patriotism, and religious obligations. As there were scarcity of resources and the government servants involved in
rehabilitations were given arbitrary powers. This power created the opportunities for the officials to promote their own interests at the expense of miserable masses.

Afghan War Against Russia:-

When the capitalist powers of the west decided to wage war against Communism and Afghanistan became the battlefield, a huge sum of money and ammunition came to Pakistan as Pakistan was to play the Frontline state role in the war against Russia. Approximately more than 10 billion dollars were given to Pakistan by the capitalist powers. Unfortunately, most of this aid was usurped by those authorities who were directly or indirectly related to Afghan War. Additionally, Pakistan has to feed more than 2 million Afghan refugees, which is a huge burden on the economy of Pakistan. Ojri Camp Incident is an example of corruption by these officials.

3. Political Instability:-

Corruption prevails in those regions where there is no peace, no writ of the state and where there is no stable government. Pakistan, unfortunately, has been a place of political intrigues, politics of opportunism and obstructionism. Ultimately, democracy could not get its root in Pakistan. In such a scenario, the ruling elites involved in corrupt practice, not only to fill their own pockets but also to buy out persons in order to facilitate their voracious aims.

Discretionary Powers Of Public Officials:-

According to Roseau;”Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Wide and discretionary powers to the public officials provide incentive for corrupt behaviour. These make them less accountable. Judges, Bureaucrats and politicians have access to control the valuable benefits of private citizens. They can impose costs over them and their business. Public officials are usually tempted to use their positions for private gains by accepting bribes for their posts. Private influential individuals may have gained undeserved projects through paying a handsome amount in bribe to the concerned officials. Thus, a necessary condition of corruption is that public officials have rewards and penalties at their disposal.

Policy Environment:-

Corruption also stems from policy environment, either on the top or at the bottom of the hierarchy. The payoffs are frequent to the lower level officials charged with collecting tariffs, provide police protection, issuing permits and the like. When corruption is endemic, these officials may create additional red tape and delay to include even higher payments. According to Qaiser Bengali;

“Every year more than 500 billion rupees laps in Pakistan due to corruption in civil bureaucracy.

The Dependency Of Politics on Bureaucracy:-

Politicians depend on bureaucracy for their political standings. The culture of politics in Pakistan is characterized as mushroom of politics and agitation politics. Thus the government becomes in shape of alliance and the same the opposition. All the political parties in the government try to recruit more and more their supporters in the bureaucracy.

This is the example of ‘administrative corruption’. Political leaders are more prone to corruption as they need resources for financing their election campaigns and also for maintaining their social status. Before Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto corruption was a problem. By the time he was overthrown; corruption had become a way of life and flourished under later rulers: “So great was the level of corruption that it would be declared an industry,” says Dr Niazi.

Low Salaries:-

Civil and military officials are also likely to involve in corruption due to their low salaries. As their costs and expenses are exceeding from their remunerations.


Poverty is also one of the main causes of corruption. The economic conditions of our country have always been shabby. Inflation, as ever, is on the rise. There is a lack of social safety network. All these compel a man to indulge in such unlawful activities.

Ineffective Law and Procedure:-

There is no deterrence for the corrupt. It is coupled with discrimination in the implementation of laws.


According to Kimberly Ann Elliot:-
“Bribery often undermines political legitimacy, squanders government revenues, and distorts international trade and investment flows. Where it is pervasive, corruption can deter investment, thereby lowering growth,” and is “detrimental to economic and political development.” Some of the main impacts of corruption are as follows:-

Moral Degradation:-

Corruption tends to moral degradation. The culture of corruption has plagued the society to the extent that it has become a way of life. Values and norms have changed and new values orientation is undergone. It puts us on the threshold of the cross roads of values. The generation, in all walks of life, emanates from assumption of power and corruption of values. Corruption leads to corruption. Corruption of liberty leads to liberty of corruption. It initiates every type of fraud, jealousy, deception, negligence and exploitation of vulnerable and weakest segments of society. It breeds inequality and injustice in the society. It denies the basic human rights of freedom, equality and fair play.

2. Slow Economic Growth:-

Corruption leads to slow economic growth, coupled deceleration with the development in the state. It impacts the private sector as there is no transparency. In consequences, investment is discouraged, whether it is internal or foreign. It impacts the public sector, as there is scarcity of resources. Thus, it creates despair, insecurity and detracts people’s constructive objective.

3. Mistrust and Suspicion:-

When there is corruption, there is mistrust and suspicion. People lose faith in the integrity of Public Administration as it becomes inefficient due to the violation of merit. Furthermore, they lose their faith in the state and its representatives. Thus, these facts cause damage to the social fabrics of the society. In consequence, democracy is put at stake and the nation become vulnerable to be exploited by the anti-Pakistani elements. Resultantly, the writ of the state will be shaken.

4. Corruption Leads To Exploitation:-

Corruption leads to exploitation because the living standard of people becomes very low. As corruption retards economy and poverty alleviation and public service delivery. Thus, it leads to all sorts of crimes and violence. Rich and poor gap get widen. Poor is exploited by burgesses (big businessman) class for their own aims.

5. Brain Drainage:-

Brain drainage is the direct effect of
corruption. It will become harder to locate men and women’s ability and integrity in the public life. Capable people prefer to go abroad and serve other nations with their ability instead of suffering in Pakistan.

6. Current Government Era:-

It has been reported that during the last four years (2008-11) there were corruption and liabilities to the tune of Rupees 8500 billion. The estimated corruption was Rupees 390 billion in 2008, Rs 450 billion in 2009, Rs 825 billion in 2010 and Rs 1100 billion in is due to prevalent corruption that the country’s economy has deteriorated to an extent that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has rated Pakistan as “highly vulnerable”, and besides mounting external debts, “for the first time in the country’s history, the domestic debts and liabilities across Rupees 7 trillion mark.”

Increment in Social Problems:-

The general public suffers because it is difficult for the people, who do not enjoy political patronage or contact with higher authorities, to get their genuine work done. Those who can bribe or have political support and contacts with higher authorities are the main beneficiaries of the prevailing system of governance. As for the judiciary and legal professions, except for superior courts, “there is widespread lack of public confidence in the justice system. Access to justice and legal the rule of law are undermined by corruption.” It can, therefore, be assumed that the bureaucracy as well as the judiciary is not above board and needs to improve their standards.


1. Honest Leadership:-

Miss Fatima Jinnah had once said that corruption is like a snow which melts from the top. “Corruption cannot exist without the
connivance of political leadership, even if passive,” says Elliot. Thus the foremost need is the top executive authority should be men of integrity who should not be corrupt and should not permit others to indulge in corruption.

2. Meritocracy:-

As for the government officials and functionaries, meritocracy must be implemented. The professional standards for the cadre law enforcement agencies should be improved, their induction made scrutiny on merit, they are reasonably well paid, there are improvements in the conduct of their training, they have service security and are free from political interference. The judiciary both at higher and lower levels should be strong, independent, honest and corruption-free. Greater transparency and effective accountability should be ensured, so there is easy accessibility of poor people to police stations, judicial courts and other public service departments.

3. Rule of Law:-

There should be a rule of law so that “thieves” are caught. The people should have fear of law and severe punishment to be given to those found guilty of corruption.

4. Proportional Representation:-

There is a tendency that candidates for legislative assemblies spend a large amount in their election campaign and in bribing the voters with a hope that they would be able to earn more. If elected, they resort to corrupt practices to amass wealth to compensate for the amount spent as well as for expenses to be spent in the next elections. If the alternative system of proportional representation, as practiced in Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, Sri Lanka etc., Is introduced it will be a check on individual corruption. And only those persons, who have an impeccable record of honesty, should be eligible for election to legislatures.

5. Financial Control:-

For financial oversight, the Public Accounts Committee and the Ministry of Finance with its Auditor General’s Office should work with efficiency and honesty. They need to continue reforming and overhauling themselves for improvement. Their working should be computerized so as to adopt best international procedures and practices, for audit and scrutiny. In addition, with a view to improving government revenues, they should ensure that the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) makes every eligible taxpayer to pay taxes to the government honestly.

6. Local Government:-

The local government system introduced in 2002 should be re-introduced and reformed wherever necessary. The system implies handling over local governance to the people through decentralization of administrative authority, de-concentration of management functions, and distribution of resources and public-private partnership in implementing and execution of works. This decentralization will eliminate corruption at provincial and higher levels, because local works would be carried out locally.

7. Civil Society:-

The civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should be associated with government agencies and committees, in advisory and oversight roles. The civil society may act as “watchdogs” in fighting against corruption. The public private partnership should be ensured, especially at district, tehsil and village level. Only those citizens should be co-opted who can take part in the direct monitoring of the Police, the Judiciary, the district government officials and others. Complaint cells be established which should be controlled by a committee composed of senior district officers and responsible citizens. In addition, there should be freedom of information in offices especially those having control over public works.

8. Education and Media:-

As a long term measure, intensive efforts need to be made to raise the Pakistan’s literacy rate, which is only 56 percent at present. There should be increased emphasis on character building and inculcating qualities such as honesty, justice, love of humanity, modesty, dignity, fair play etc, in our educational institutions. Besides, it should be the theme, which electronic and print media should focus on.

9. National Accountability Bureau:-

In the past many attempts were made to uproot corruption but all in vain. Critics opine that in the past, people were targeted and not facets of corruption. NAB was established to substantiate the commandment of Allah but it became a kingro court. The anti- corruption Act is still on the Statue Book (constitution), the Public Representative Office Disqualification Act is still in vogue. General Ayub, Zia, Musharraf introduced their own anti- corruption programs but they all aimed at throwing out the politicians and not the corruption.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) at the federal, provincial and local levels should effectively resort to monitoring through public awareness and in cooperation and collaboration with civil society. NAB should be independent of the executive. The setting up Public Safety Commission (PSC) in each district will be helpful. It would ensure greater private-public partnership and participation. It will be of assistance in the investigation of grievances. The anti-corruption process will be effective if the functionaries of NAB are paid well and have security of tenure. The Nab should have adequate staff and the requisite capability and capacity to perform its functions effectively “for improving governance, management, transparency and accountability and quality of public procurement of goods, services and works in the public sector.”

10. Anti Corruption Ombudsmen:-

Perhaps, Pakistan also needs to have an office of an anti-corruption ombudsman as proposed by Anna Hazare in India to deal with complaints against the conduct of other government officials and agencies dealing with the public. There may be anti-corruption ombudsmen at federal, provincial and local levels for prompt and speedy disposal of corruption cases involving abuse of power, illegal gratification, and misappropriation of property, kickbacks and commissions. However, accountability must not be selective and it should be across the board. The anti-corruption ombudsman should not only be independent but have vast powers. He should work without discrimination and the privileged people should not be treated differently. It would be the implementation of anti-corruption measures which would rather, as the taste of the pudding lies in its eating.

11. Transparency:-

Transparency, honesty and fair play are the pre-requisite for any state to progress. In order to make Pakistan a corruption free state, it is inevitable to introduce a transparency and merit culture in all its departments. No room should be provided for favouritism, gifts culture and bribery.

12. Increasing the Salaries of Public Servants:-

Corruption is a socio-economic problem. In the past, it has been treated only as a legal and administrative issue. Good rumination to the public servants and merit- oriented bureaucracy should be the norm in the country. There should be social justice and equity among all citizens of the country. The pay structure of the public officials must be realistic. Their salaries should be adequate to meet their needs.

13. Mass awareness:-

To minimize corruption in Pakistan, there is a need of comprehensive campaign on the media to bring awareness to the people. The
propagation against corruption could play a vital role in uprooting corruption in Pakistan. Civil society can also play a vital role in minimizing corruption in our society.

14. Empowering Parliamentary Oversight Committee:-

Democratic government is still the best policy even if its leaders are less austere and less capable than non-political guards or experts. A democratic system has its own correcting mechanism. Parliament oversight and fear of losing the confidence of people makes it more efficient. A parliament oversight committee should be empowered to revive all the actions of the government, big cartels and bureaucrats. Only then the corruption could be minimized in the country.


There should be a multi-pronged approach to fighting against corruption. The measures already taken to check corruption, such as the promulgation of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, Freedom of Information Ordinance and creation of NAB, have not so far produced the results. NAB, anti-corruption ombudsmen, fear of the law, decentralization of administration, participation of civil society and NGOs should control and contain corruption.

An honest and capable leadership can reduce corruption. The state institutions need to be strengthened and should be able to function effectively. Bureaucracy and judiciary should be inducted on merit, should be paid well, have pride in their work, and enjoy service security. It is encouraging that there is a growing consciousness among the masses, intelligentsia, and others to eliminate this evil. Once corruption is rooted out from Pakistan, then progress is its fate as God has bestowed it with both human and natural resources.

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Coruption in Pakistan. (2016, Mar 31). Retrieved from

Coruption in Pakistan

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