Moon Garden Project: Rampant corruption


Not far from their cozy homes about one hundred families spent their second night on Thursday on the footpaths of Karachi. They have lost their homes in the Moon Garden housing complex, following an order of the Sindh High Court in a dispute over the ownership of the land the building stands on. The Moon Garden project was launched in 1998 and its building plan was approved in 2009, which is after 10 years.

How come no one took notice of the disputed ownership of the site and seven-storied structure was completed even before approval of its building plan. It was so because corruption works like termite; you notice its presence only when it is about to finish its work. And it is not only the Moon Garden where this termite remained undetected; in Karachi, and elsewhere it has worked in myriad ways ranging from land-grabbing to fake degree-manufacturing to terror-financing.

For its own interest or at the behest of its political masters the bureaucracy abused its control over public funds and resources as well as by misappropriating assets and position. As this Ganga flowed generously not the low and small only but those in high positions also had their bath. Every day dawns with a new mega scandal, more often than not suggesting involvement of the big and mighty.

If the Moon Garden is on the front page today, the day before it were scams of Axact degrees, EOBI, Islamabad Airport, Independent Power Plants, human smuggling, TDAP and PSO. According to information passed on to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali, of some 12,000 inquiries the FIA has converted 4,129 into cases while 5,610 have been either closed or sent to other departments. No wonder then Pakistan commands a high position among the corrupt countries. In 2014, Pakistan scored 126 out of 174 on the Corruption Perceptions Index published by the Transparency International.

But oddly enough for reasons, most latent if not vicious, the enormity of corruption juxtaposed by paucity of action against the corrupt. May be once awhile a police constable is sacked or a patwari is put into prison cell, but where does go all the big fish. They strike plea bargains with the NAB (in the spirit of tum be raho aaram sey, aur main be rahoon aaram sey), or seek protection in safe havens in London and Dubai or simply remain free on perpetual bail granted by the court.

The Interior Minister is rightly piqued at the high rate of bails in corruption cases. But what the courts can do if the concerned government agencies fail to present cogent cases against the accused. The enormity of corruption and slow accountability of the corrupt tends to breed more corruption. There is therefore an urgent need to implement anti-corruption law and streamline the anti-corruption process.

Then there should be a timeline for investigation in corruption cases, unlike presently that some of the corruption cases are older than most of the Pakistanis. Had the concerned departments been alive to their responsibilities there would not have been scams like the Moon Garden project, ‘katchi abadis’ in Islamabad and fake housing societies all over the country.

It is also imperative that the government should take up the issue of extradition of the fugitives from justice by activating its bilateral agreements, and if that facility is not available then by agitating Interpol and other anti-crime international agencies. Perhaps, the extradition of 38 big fish involved in mega corruption scams that minister has directed FIA to gear up, should have been much before – even if such a move could trigger negative political fallout for the Nawaz Sharif government.

Source: Business Recorder