The Corruption of Anti-Corruption (or Pakistan is a Big Black Hole)

The smartest people in the world can talk and talk, but it’s still a tough call to reach a resolution.

Even at the tail-end of Day 1 of the 14th IACC, the International Anti-Corruption Conference  – the world’s premier platform for tackling corruption – identifying the basis, the causes, and the methods which will eliminate corruption has been a difficult task.

I’m here with seven other journos – reporters, bloggers, photogs – who do print, TV and online work – and the mission is a simple one: get the word out  on global corruption. Period.

The concept is ground-breaking: Eight journalists, from all over Asia, bring cutting edge social media skills to the Thai government/Transparency International sponsored expo and spread the happenings to the world.

But that’s where the problem begins.

Hearing some of the world’s smartest corruption fighters, campaigners and prosecutors is inspiring – but also confusing.

In the workshops as well as the ‘plenary’ sessions (which are as big if not bigger than UN General Assembly meetings, complete with translation headphones that disseminate the buzz in four languages), these experts  focus on several key areas regarding corruption – security, defence, human rights, environment, climate-change, and disaster-relief.

The topics are engaging, as is the jargon: “State Capture” (when corruption becomes endemic in society in congruence with central institutions of the nation-state perpetrating ‘organized’ corruption; “Water Integrity” (I’m still trying to figure out that one); “Settling Foreign Bribery Cases”; and that’s just Day 1.

According to the schedule, over the next four days, the IACC is also going to be shedding light on “Corruption and Human Trafficking” , “Facilitating Integrity in the Judiciary”, even “Following the Money to Curb Forest Crime”.

As an American colleague put it, it’s all very “heady”.

This is probably the biggest collection of academics, public officials, development workers, activists and info-junkies I’ve ever seen in one place.

But there is a gap – the elephant in the room; the black swan; the 800 pound gorilla – and no one is covering it well enough.

That would be the Islamic Republic of Pakistan: my home and country, and now the world’s unofficial “basket case” of geo-political instability, terrorism, poverty and yes, corruption.

A few days ago, a former Indian diplomat referred to “Pak”, as it now commonly called, as the “Sick Man of Asia”. He said it on live TV, hours after President Barack Obama had displayed the courage to tell an Indian audience in Mumbai that their country had a “stake” in the stability and prosperity of Pakistan.

The diplo had slammed the American president, and his “erstwhile ally”, Pakistan, as being a failed state, a hotbed and sponsor of terror, which was well on it’s way to breaking up.

But he missed some details. The country that became the template for Public-Private partnership (for current giants like S. Korea and the UAE) for a sustainable economy in the 1950s has not only gone broke economically, but also institutionally. The military, the executive, the judiciary, the civil society, and yes, the so called liberal elites, are all in the common business of corruption.

That is Pakistan’s primary and perhaps existential problem.

Not nukes. Not Osama. Not the Taliban. Not human rights abuses. Not biblical floods.

Just corruption.

Rampant, embedded and institutionalized corruption.

Unfortunately, that is the gap at the IACC.

For now, I have failed to see enough attention drawn to the Islamic Republic’s ghosts of graft.

I have failed to see any questions being asked by a very eclectic audience.

I have failed to see an interest in a failing state whose ultimate demise will probably create the most catastrophic ripple effects on the political, economic and demographic spectrum of our planet not seen since the fall of the USSR.

The eye of the global security storm, “Pak”, has not been covered by a global conference dedicated to tackling the world’s corruption woes, so far.

Is there something corrupt about that?

I think so…



Razzaq vs Afridi (or Ego vs Id)

The difference between Afridi and Razzaq is the difference between the Pakhtun and the Punjabi. The Pakhtun delivers violence and punishment randomly, but with vigour, passion and even intransigence. For him the moment is more important. The end is never nigh for him. The Punjabi metes out the same with as much impact but induces more damage, as he works within a larger stratagem. His victory is built on a framework, a scheme. His plot is thicker. Unlike the id-driven Pakhtun who works on a pleasure-pain principle, the Punjabi is ego-driven and operates in a reality network…It is thus that the Punjabi wins matches…but the Pakhtun conquers his opponent’s fear..