Corruption in Balochistan


WEB DESK: A raid on the house of Finance Secretary Balochistan, Mushtaq Ahmed Raisani, by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officers and recovery of 14 bags of local and foreign currency (in excess of 63 crore rupees), excluding gold and other precious metals has stunned the nation.

According to NAB estimates, the total value of cash, bonds and jewellery recovered from Raisani’s house was 730 million rupees; however the jury is still out on whether this figure would be revised subsequent to a more detailed evaluation of jewellery. He has reportedly confessed to NAB that had they raided the house a day later the money would have been remitted out of the country through hundi/hawala.

While accusations of massive corruption in the past against all provincial governments, including Balochistan, have been frequent yet the recovery of such a large amount provides conclusive proof which cannot be dismissed as a charge without merit or as political victimisation. To ferret out white-collar crime requires forensic audit experts which this country simply does not have or such is the general consensus. While in Raisani’s case no forensic audit is required with respect to the recovered amount. However, audit is certainly required for all past transactions that he may have undertaken with respect to sending the money out of the country through hundi/hawala.

NAB officials accused Raisani of embezzling funds earmarked for the Public Sector Development Programme since 2013 when seeking his physical remand for 14 days and the response of the accused to-date was typical of how those caught with their hand in the till have exhibited: he revealed that he was suffering from an ailment, in his case diabetes, and that he would require medical facilities which in some instances has implied remand in a comfortable hospital bed. While all legal systems do and should provide for medical treatment of the guilty yet using ill health as a means to get access to better living quarters has become the norm for the rich and the influential in this country – a practice that needs to be carefully looked at by the courts of law.

The Balochistan government has taken appropriate action with one resignation so far – that of Mir Khalid Langov, Advisor to the Chief Minister on Finance – not for being complicit but for failure to effectively monitor the situation. Former Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik has offered himself for accountability as he too failed to monitor the situation. This must be lauded and one would hope that other provinces, including some federal ministers begin to take responsibility for their failure to monitor corruption within their ministries/attached departments as well. Members of the Opposition in the Balochistan assembly are insisting that all members of Dr Baloch’s cabinet, including the current Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri should resign, a call that has not yet been heeded.

What is currently a source of serious concern within the general public is NAB’s practice of a plea bargain or in other words, agreeing on repayment of a relatively small percentage of the amount actually embezzled – a practice that is unlikely to forestall future siphoning off of development funds into private accounts. One would hope that plea bargaining is not allowed in this case and appropriate amendments made to ensure that this option is not allowed to anyone found guilty of corruption from henceforth.

Budgeted outlays on physical and social infrastructure are regarded as a major pillar for not only promoting economic growth but also through their positive impact on the quality of lives of the common man delinking the existing nexus between poverty/unemployment and fundamentalism/terrorism. Thus the outcome of Raisani’s crime is not limited to corruption but also impacts on the recruitment drive of terror organisations. It is therefore hoped that appropriate cases be filed against him, plea bargain not be considered and last but not least his cohorts similarly investigated.

Source: Business Recorder