There are four factors that are evident in the tussle between Punjab bureaucrats and NAB in Lahore. First. Pakistan is a country where land is gold as there is population pressure for housing. Second, the land is where most corruption money is parked because of the duality adopted in settling transactions. The actual sales agreement is different from the one used to complete the transfer and everyone considers it a norm without feeling that it is unethical and wrong. Third, bureaucracy after independence is still operating on colonial pattern serving rulers and keeping the masses subservient. Fourth, there is a nexus between land developers, politicians and bureaucrats enriching all three at the cost of the nation.
Land developers fund political parties to win elections and in return get the placement of their favorite bureaucrats in key positions that then grant them prized land at throwaway prices. Malik Riaz was courageous to publicly announce bribing politicians and bureaucrats. But no NAB has the power to ask him questions to become a state witness to help punish corrupt officials. Malik Riaz is not alone there are many other such characters holding the nation hostage to their business interests. The land is the most lucrative business in Pakistan without any real hard work as the price only goes up and never comes down. But this speculative and corruption parking activity in real estate has made it impossible for a middle-class person to become a homeowner in his lifetime.
These four factors were in play in Karachi when a crackdown was initiated to prosecute people engaged in China cutting. A similar situation seems to be evident in the arrest and questioning of former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Director General Ahad Cheema. But the perception developing from NAB action is that it is against one party and has political motivation rather than an effort to punish corruption.
Personally, I have always held the position that NAB was created by a military dictator for political arm-twisting to help with political engineering. Despite its existence for 17 years NAB has failed to curtail corruption rather it has increased many folds under its watch and in some ways, NAB has contributed towards the increase in corruption. I have always proposed that NAB should be disbanded and FIA should have white collar crime division that should keep an eye on the corruption of public office holders including bureaucrats, elected executive, judges, and generals. Some people say that politicians will not allow FIA to work as an autonomous body but they forget that NAB was also not independent as accepted by many. The reality is that it suits everyone in ruling elite that corruption should continue and they get richer at the cost of the nation. So dramas like the ones played in the prized locations Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad will continue. Politicians, bureaucrats, judges, and generals all are fully involved in digging land gold. This is the bitter truth which we fail to recognize.
By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi