Politics had now become a big source of earning huge and illicit wealth by publicly misusing the official powers of the State and the government. In the past, politics was considered as a service to the broad masses by the politicians who dedicated their entire life for betterment of the society and well being of the people in general.
Or the nationalists, including the freedom fighters, fought the British colonialism for over a century in this land dominated the public opinion and finally got their country liberated from the colonialists and their agents. They remained in jail for decades and not years fighting the British colonialism.
The towering personalities led their people in this sub-continent and they enjoyed trust and confidence of their people. That is why they attracted huge crowd to their public meetings organized to press their demands for freedom, reforms and development.
There was no concept of crowd hired for a political meeting of the so called leaders. Illegal Afghan immigrants in tens of thousands remained available to grace a public meeting of the dubious politicians in power or those who provided them food, transport and the necessary fee for attending the meetings. There are thousands of religious seminaries mainly in Balochistan, KPK and Seraiki speaking areas where students of those institutions available to provide big crowd for the ‘religious’ leaders’ to claim popularity among the masses.
It is common for the Prime Ministers to collect big crowd for the public meetings addressed in any part of the country. Even a public meeting of the Prime Minister in Gwadar, a tiny city with less than a population of hundred thousands, people were hired and brought from surrounding human settlements and cities in Mekran to demonstrate the power and influence of the ruling party during the election year. It was misleading that the Prime Minister was a crowd puller in remote region of Mekran.
Money factor in politics came to our knowledge during the Presidential election of Field Marshal Ayub Khan. The Government organized the election campaign in a way assuring that each and every BD member is approached and contacted and offered the required money to vote for the corrupt and dishonest President of Pakistan.
The rate of vote was fixed at Rs 3000 in 1960s and recipients included a former Princely ruler of a defunct State in Balochistan. He claimed the money for his 16 other BD members and received the money in presence of hundreds of people. Rather it was a function to distribute the money among the BD Members in Karachi for casting vote in favour of President. Most of the big business people and industrialists were contributors of funds for the election campaign which Ayub won with comfortable majority.
However, corruption was not so widespread at that time. It was made worst by another military dictator General Ziaul Haq. He organized the partyless elections with a specific target to dislodge the popular political leaders and workers from the political scene and encourage most of the unscrupulous people to contest the elections of National and Provincial Assemblies. Most of the fortune seekers were inducted in politics as MNA, MPA and Senator.
The Martial Law Administrators in the Provinces awarded ‘party tickets’ to potential candidates. Each and every MPA was summoned and told to vote the official candidates. Groups of MPAs in Balochistan were formed to back official candidates of the Senate representing Balochistan. In the process, a few leaders managed to defend their constituencies in partyless elections. Almost all strange and dubious characters represented Balochistan in 1985 partyless elections.
For the first time in the history, Muslim League, the official party of the military dictator, formed the Government at the Centre and in all the four provinces. It was unusual that there was no opposition. In return of their police service to the dictator, they were assured massive development funds at their disposal. The military dictator honoured his commitment as each MPA got substantial funds in the name of development. In the beginning it was in millions.
Now it is hundreds of millions a year in Balochistan as the MPAs claim these funds as a matter of right. Even they were found opposing the Government spending on any mega development project like water supply to Quetta from the Indus source. In some cases, there was distribution of cash to some of the MPAs during one of the fiscal years.
It is the biggest charm for the corrupt and dishonest to participate in the general elections as they get a return in billions for spending a few millions in their elections. The elections are dominated by the self seekers, dishonest who are being patronized by a dishonest section of the Pakistani establishment.
Mian Nawaz Sharif is a classic case in this respect. Before he entered politics, he and his entire family owned the only Itefaq Foundry worth millions. After becoming the Chief Minister of Punjab and Prime Minister of Pakistan on three occasions, he amassed a huge wealth to an unimaginable level. He and his family own at least 28 mills and factories besides a complete monopoly over the sugar industry. Ishaq Dar, an ordinary technocrat, had also become a billionaire only by misusing State powers with impunity.
Such huge money is not available in any business, big or small, in Pakistan. The huge money is hidden in misusing the state and official powers. The LNG controversy is yet to unfold in which people got commission at billions of US dollars. There is a common perception that an ordinary public servant can earn million, in middle grade official hundreds of millions and a senior public servant can earn billions during their posting in Balochistan.
However, there is an exception to this view as powerful Sardars, tribal elders and highly influential personalities on the political scene retaining their political constituencies as their voters lack the courage and commitment to defy them or deny them the role of leadership. It is the curse of the primitive traditional society.
There is an improvement in recent years as tribal strangle hold are shatters with political development in certain areas where tribalism was strong and powerful. To some extent, it may not work with usual force. It had become weaker in absence of their powerful tribal chieftains. They are being replaced by the political forces and political elements and for a good of the society in general.
If we are interested to curb and minimize rampant corruption, then we have to expel all corrupt elements from politics denying funds to Senators, MNAs and MPAs. We have to close the chapter of development funds for public representatives. It is pity that more than Rs 76 billion development funds are at the disposal of the MPAs in Balochistan in a single fiscal year with no return to the economy or an increase in the State revenue. Since 1985 or after the partyless elections, all MPA schemes had gone waste.
First of all, the State actors will have to stop patronizing corruption in Balochistan diverting funds for economic development which should be used directly by the State. It is possible by dislodging the corrupt and dishonest people from the electoral system. The political parties should stop awarding party tickets to corrupt and self seekers so that dishonest people are dislodged once for all