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Watan Ya Kafan

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The Awami National Party (ANP) began its campaign with the slogan “Pur Amn Pakistan”. However, in the aftermath of the attack on the Bilours of Peshawar, an unofficial slogan came to the fore and has since taken over.

Watan Ya Kafan” (Country or Shroud) sums up the stance of a group that is bloodied and cornered but yet proud and defiant. Not only does it signify ANP’s resolve but it also pays homage to the choice made by more than 700 of its martyrs.

One would assume that such gallantry would elicit praise from all quarters. But that is certainly not the case. Instead, there exists quite a strong sense of resentment. Polls indicate that, and my personal interactions corroborate it. By and large, the source of this resentment seems to be ANP’s financial corruption.

This belief is mostly backed by anecdotes. And one particular line that is quoted as the ultimate proof is “Baba ta easy load ka”, alluding that during ANP’s tenure bribing Haider Hoti’s father was necessary for getting things done.

Ironically, many of my friends who are utterly disgusted with ANP’s corruption, seem to have a different yardstick for their own financial integrity. One will claim a substantial inheritance from a father who was known for taking bribes. Another, a Government servant, is infamous for not even pardoning relatives when it comes to “fees”. But then both are completely disgusted over Baba’s “easy loads”. And they have every right to be, because hypocrisy of critics should not absolve the ANP of its crimes.

It would be ridiculous to claim that the ANP government was not involved in any corruption, but by the same token it would be naïve to rely just on anecdotes to associate it with corruption at unmatched levels. If the accusations are true and corruption was that widespread in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, then some indicator somewhere should capture it. Especially when compared with other provinces.

The Transparency International (TI) Pakistan is one such source. Its surveys for 2009 & 2010 provide estimates of the annual average provincial corruption expenditures. For both these years the sample from KP had one of the lowest corruption expenditures among the four provinces. For 2009, Khyber Pakhtunkha averaged at Rs. 3,454, while Punjab was Rs. 19,959. For 2010, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the lowest among all provinces at Rs. 3,528, while the highest i.e. Punjab was at Rs. 17,791. This infographic has more detailed comparisons based on those statistics.

TI Pakistan didn’t consider these estimates in its provincial corruption ranking for 2010, as it was based on perceptions. It focused on just one question; for KP, the respondents were asked if the present Government (ANP) was more corrupt than the previous government (MMA). But here is the twist; for some odd reason TI chose Peshawar, Mansehra, Abbotabad and Haripur as representative districts for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

An anti ANP verdict from the Hazara division was inevitable, and this was presented as the perception of the whole province. This result was then used extensively in the media to label ANP’s government as the most corrupt. I wrote a more detailed piece on TI Pakistan’s methodology back in 2010.

While the jury is still out on ANP, lets focus a bit on this national obsession with corruption. Yes, corruption is a huge problem in Pakistan, but does it really overshadow terrorism? Last year, Pakistan had a total of 652 bombings leading to 1,007 deaths, that means an average of 2 bombings and 3 deaths per day! and this was one of our better years.

But yet survey after survey confirms that Pakistan considers corruption to be a bigger problem than terrorism. This is akin to a cancer patient citing a common cold as his biggest ailment. The difference between corruption and terrorism should be obvious from their respective units of measurement; rupees for corruption and deaths for terrorism. How big of a bribe can outweigh the death of one human?

The ANP’s biggest sacrifice is against the menace of terrorism. If it had followed MMA’s path, today some of its top workers and leaders would still be alive. But instead it took on the biggest monster of our times, and paid dearly for it. Ironically the ones so eager to bestow the title of “Pashtun resistance” on the Taliban refuse to even acknowledge this non-violent defiance.

Acknowledged or not, but the followers of Bacha Khan are meeting the standards that were set in Qissa Khawani in 1930, and Barbara in 1948. The villains might have changed but the resolve of these martyrs harks back to the days of Ghaffar Khan. It is a fact that the number of martyrs of ANP is comparable to those from uniformed outfits like the Frontier Constabulary, Police and Pakistan Army. Not a small feat for a political party.

However the comparison is really striking when done against other parties, especially the ones claiming ferocity of felines and natural disasters. This lot is faking complete oblivion to a danger that threatens the very existence of their proposed “Roshan” and “Naya” Pakistans.

Cowardice and opportunism seem to be the only apparent reasons for their silence. A convenient excuse is to declare the war against Taliban to be “someone else’s war”. But while Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan may have their own interpretations, Hakeem Ullah Mehsud has made it clear that his war is against Pakistan, whether its “Roshan” or “Naya” will not make a difference.

Today ANP has been left alone to fight a war for the survival and continuation of Pakistan’s democracy. After every bombing its battered leaders reiterate their demand for a timely election, one that their party is very likely to lose. It is a slap in the face of those who want to destabilize our democracy, but as a principled stance remains unappreciated by most Pakistanis.

Supporting the ANP doesn’t necessarily mean that one votes for it. Regardless of party affiliations the need is to provide a united front against the forces bent upon destabilizing democracy in Pakistan, and are presently focused on the ANP.

For those who still think ANP’s corruption doesn’t make it worth the effort, I propose the following calculation.

Step 1: Put a price on the life of a loved one.

Step 2: Multiply that price by 700.

Step 3: From this total subtract the biggest possible estimate for ANP’s corruption (make it KP’s entire budget if you may).

Lets see if the remainder is positive or negative.

An edited version appeared in The News on the 27th of April 2013 under the title “Terror, Corruption and ANP”


Written by Imran Khan

April 27, 2013 at 5:34 am

Transparency’s Opacity

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The results from Transparency International’s “National Corruption Perception Survey 2010″ are being touted in the media as an infallible judgment on the corruption of the ANP led Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, while at the same time they are taken as proof of the honesty of Punjab’s PML-N led Government. One would be tempted to accept this judgment given the reputation and stature of Transparency International, but a look into the details of the survey reveals inconsistencies that leave a lot to be desired. These inconsistencies need to be taken into account by media pundits and politicians before any conclusions are made.

One has to give credit to Transparency International for carrying out this exercise for the fourth time; i.e. 2002, 2006, 2009 and now this one in 2010. Each survey had a larger sample size than its predecessor, thus indicating a higher scope as well as coverage. The 2009 and 2010 surveys differ from the other two when it comes to the provincial sample size. Both in 2002 and 2005 the sample size for each province was somewhat reflective of its overall population proportion in Pakistan.  But in 2009 and 2010, each province was awarded the same sample size i.e. 1300.

A peculiarity about the sample selected from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as well as Punjab was their higher monthly income. For both provinces, more than 60% of the survey respondents fell into the monthly income range of Rs. 16,000 and above, which was higher than that for Sindh and Baluchistan. This higher income level of the sample from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is further validated by their ownership of cars: 550 respondents from the province reported to owning a car, compared to 398 from Punjab, 383 from Sindh, and 295 from Baluchistan.

Considering the financially richer sample from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, one would expect that their bribery expenses be also higher than those for other provinces. After all, it is a common observation that a higher financial status raises higher expectations from prying officials. For instance, tax evasion related to a higher income would be at a higher bribe, similarly a violating car driver would be expected to pay a higher bribe than a violating motorcyclist.

But when one looks at the actual bribery expenses as detailed on page 62 of the report, the sample from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa reported the “lowest” total bribery expenses. If one is to divide the total reported expenses of each province by the sample size i.e. 1300, then we get the following measures of average expenditure on bribery for each province: Punjab Rs. 17,791, Sindh Rs. 16,885, Baluchistan Rs. 3,942 while Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa showing the lowest at Rs. 3,528.

This presents a very perplexing situation, the survey clearly indicates that the expenditures of a relatively richer sample in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa pays a far less amount in bribes than its comparable (income wise) sample from Punjab. This, if anything, reflects that there is a relative “lack” of corruption in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa rather than the other way round.

So then what prompted this survey to declare the present Government of ANP as the most corrupt of all provincial governments in Pakistan? The answer lies in a new question that was introduced to the survey this year. In this question the respondents were asked:  “Which Provincial Government was cleaner, the present (2008-10) or the past?” If one is to rephrase this question in the context of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, then it would mean: which Provincial Government was more corrupt, the ANP or the MMA? 78% of the respondents declared ANP to be more corrupt than the MMA.

This particular question is a verdict on a political party, and as an unqualified value judgment, it is bound to reflect the political leanings of each respondent. Given the introduction of this new question, Transparency International should have been extra careful in making sure that the sample from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or for that matter from any other province is a close representation of the political map of the Province.

But one is surprised to see that the four cities selected from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are: Peshawar and all the urban centers of Hazara Division, i.e. Mansehra, Abbotabad, and Haripur. Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge about the political history of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa would not be surprised by the overwhelming verdict against ANP from this sample. The recent upheaval about the Pakhtunkhwa issue in Hazara Division is an indication of the unpopularity of ANP in that area. If the respondents were equally distributed between the four cities then the three cities of Hazara Division would constitute 75% of the sample size, almost the same as the respondents who declared ANP to be more corrupt than the MMA. Given these facts, the selected sample from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is very unlikely to be truly representative of the political map of the Province, and thus is very unlikely to give an unbiased assessment.

It should also be mentioned that the choice of cities in this survey takes a departure from the norms adopted in the previous two surveys. These deviations are specifically peculiar when it comes to Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, i.e. the “cleanest” and the “dirtiest” provinces.

A review of the cities selected in the earlier surveys would be useful here, the 2002 survey focused on the Provincial Capitals for all the provinces except Punjab for which both Lahore as well as Multan was chosen. The 2006 survey chose Rawalpindi and Faisalabad for Punjab while Peshawar and Nowshera for the former NWFP. The 2010 survey had the room to be more diversified, as it aimed to choose 5 cities from each province. Interestingly the report, on page number 14 lists only 4 cities from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa i.e. Peshawar, Mansehra, Haripur and Abbotabad. Whether the survey was only carried out in 4 cities or the 5th one was missed out as a typo is not clear from going through the report. Also dubious is the selection for Punjab, which is; Lahore, Sialkot, Daska, Gujranwala, and Chakwal. These are all areas where PML-N showed a very strong electoral performance in the 2008 election. Contrary to the 2002 survey, where Multan was chosen along with Lahore to measure perceptions, the 2010 survey completely ignores Southern Punjab.

The Corruption Perceptions Survey 2010, very blatantly asked about the corruption perceptions surrounding ANP and PML-N. For ANP it did that mostly in areas where the party is very unlikely to even field a candidate while for PML-N it did the same in areas that are its historical strongholds. The results then should not be portrayed as an objective assessment or a ranking for that matter.

There is ample proof about the partiality inherent in this survey, whether this was done by error or design, in both cases Transparency International needs to come clean on this issue. The last thing it wants is to be used as a tool in the domestic politics of Pakistan.

An edited version appeared in The News on June 9th 2010

Written by Imran Khan

June 9, 2010 at 12:25 pm

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