Accountability Starts Becoming a Reality in Pakistan

Pakistan is one of the unfortunate places where accountability of both expenditure and actions is just nominal; in fact, it’s almost non-existent. Yet, recent cases reported in media convey the hope that some serious accountability of various institutions has started as a new chairman of the country’s accountability department is taking serious note of corruption in these government-funded institutions.

The new chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Nadeem Afzal Chan, seems intent on getting things right he is moving the PAC in action against allegedly corrupt officials and institutions. For example, under his directions, the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) – the construction wing of the country’s powerful military – was ordered in June to vacate more than 50 toll collection points which had been illegally occupied by them for years. Not only that, but the FWO was also ordered to pay the government more than 5 billion rupees that had been collected in toll fees over these years. This act directly goes against the country’s military power that had been controlling what belonged to the civil government.

In another case that made a breaking news this month, PAC made public the report telling of 21 judges of the Supreme Court who received residential plots in the country’s capital Islamabad – a sign of corruption for abusing one’s position in exchange for property. While these judges have denied receiving plots, the PAC report holds and it is expected that investigation will lead to accountability of those who abused their positions. In a country where just pointing a finger at a high judge is akin to inviting a contempt of court case, this is another daring move by the PAC.

But military and judiciary are not the only subjects of PAC’s accountability process. Civil government’s departments are also being made accountable. In a major move, a couple of days back, PAC put the members of the Board of Directors of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on exit control list so as to make sure they don’t escape the country while an investigation is conducted against them on charges of irregularities worth dozens of billions.

These recent developments of PAC in curbing corruption is just the beginning and one can hope that this crackdown will continue in the coming months, expanding to other departments and sectors where public funds are misappropriated or misused and no accountability is held of those involved in this ongoing silent plunder. This is new hope for Pakistan and the big feeling of loss here is why a man from the opposition party was made a PAC chairman while such a competent person was there in the government’s own pocket.