Corruption’s Canvas: Painting a New Pakistan Through Individual Change

By Jaseem Pasha, MD
Monday, June 5, 2023

Pakistanis have only two choices:

Either continue casting stones,
They begin by becoming the change they wish to see in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Systemic Corruption: Reflecting the Mirror of Our Actions

Corruption is a formidable and profoundly entrenched issue in the intricate web of Pakistan’s challenges, reaching alarming proportions unseen in previous decades. This malaise has sowed many seeds of frustration, hopelessness, and despair. There’s no shortage of blame—fingers are readily pointed at the military, government, and the wider public. However, an oft-overlooked perspective is that our societal system, marred by corruption, fundamentally reflects our actions. All that goes around comes around.

Deciphering the Maze of Corruption

Pakistan’s placement at 124th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index of 2020 underscores the severity of the issue. Root causes span a gamut from the absence of robust regulatory mechanisms and insufficient oversight to a tepid response to wrongdoers. But beyond these systemic challenges lies a deeper malady: societal norms and individual practices that either tacitly accept or actively indulge in corruption.

The Tangled Web We Weave

Corruption isn’t just an institutional malady. It’s an aggregation of myriad ‘small’ acts of dishonesty, from the local vendor’s tampered scales to the ordinary citizens bribing their way out of queues to law enforcement personnel prioritizing personal gain over justice. Such behaviors set the stage for broader, systemic corruption when they become commonplace.

Beyond the Surface: Deeper Challenges

Our society grapples with more than just corruption. Leader worship, where individuals are revered for infallibility, muddies the waters of accountability. Political parties and sectarian divisions further fragment the societal fabric, challenging united reformative action. Moreover, an undercurrent of hatred, violence, and a glaring disregard for human dignity prevails. These are not mere offshoots of corruption but intertwined elements that collectively degrade our society.

Guidance from the Prophet: Humanity Before All

The profound words of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) resonate deeply here: “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Living by this principle inherently means curbing actions that harm others, including corrupt practices.

Furthermore, the Prophet’s roadmap for confronting wrongdoing emphasized proactive action against evil, advocating change through direct action, words, or, at the very least, heartfelt disdain.

Pathway to Reform
  1. Rediscover Humanity: Before religious or political affiliations, we must first identify as human beings, recognizing and upholding the inherent dignity of every individual.
  2. Dismantle Divisive Barriers: Political, sectarian, or otherwise divisions hamper collective progress. Embracing unity and common purpose is vital.
  3. Foster Respect: If we can’t respect each other, how can we expect respect from our leaders? Mutual respect builds a foundation for societal betterment.
  4. Strengthen Institutions: An empowered, unbiased institutional framework is the bulwark against corruption.
  5. Harness Technology: Digital governance can curtail opportunities for corrupt practices by minimizing discretionary powers.
  6. Promote Transparency: Effective Right to Information laws can ensure governmental accountability.
  7. Prioritize Individual Accountability: Personal introspection and self-correction are the starting points of broader societal transformation.

For Pakistan to surmount its systemic corruption, a multi-faceted approach is imperative. This journey begins at the individual level and culminates in national transformation. While the path may be challenging, with unwavering dedication, a brighter and more transparent Pakistan awaits.

True national transformation begins at home, within the heart of every individual. Rather than fixating solely on the government’s shortcomings, corrupt leaders, and some devious mullahs, we must first confront the reflections in our mirrors.

Why decry corruption on a national stage while permitting it in our personal theaters?

No matter how trivial, every act of dishonesty paints another brushstroke on the larger canvas of national corruption. We cannot hope for an incorruptible government if this nation’s pillars do not exemplify integrity in our daily actions. There’s no merit in being hypersensitive to others’ transgressions yet utterly tolerant of our own.

Remember, nothing in life is without a cost. We must first invest in our character to earn respect, transparency, and a corruption-free society. Let’s prioritize respect for every fellow citizen’s dignity, cultivate unwavering integrity, and foster genuine empathy. Only then can we create the Pakistan we all envision.”

Do not judge Islam by counting the number of Muslims; instead, rely upon how many Muslims are good human beings from whose hands and tongues no one gets harmed.

We must genuinely believe and display reverence towards Prophet Sunnah by mirroring his exemplary character towards all, even every non-Muslim, to respect them and shield them from any harm from any side. Just be a good human being. Other non-Muslims will respect us, too.

The psychological challenge for the whole nation of Pakistan:

While it is true that everyone complains about corruption at every level, it would be constructive if we all become mindful that our culture is much desensitized not only to the corrupt human relationships but also to the rampant prevalence of dehumanization of men, women and children. Unfortunately, we all live in glass houses, and blaming a specific group is not beneficial.

It’s essential to cultivate self-awareness, introspection, and empathy. Finger-pointing, assigning blame, and not taking personal responsibility can become commonplace. This behavior perpetuates distrust and hinders collaboration.

This state of mind also explains why collective efforts to advance society are hampered and the community bonds weaken. Naturally, all sincere efforts fail to address the root issues. Our endeavors to cultivate a culture of intellectual integrity, personal responsibility, and mutual respect must be unconditional and independent of how others are behaving. This approach will significantly help to build a critical mass of people in Pakistan to make a difference. This strategy is what Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) used in his first thirteen years of prophethood.

At least those who believe in the Prophet’s Sunnah must take the first step to become an exemplary human being.

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