The news that Rs8 million intended for the rehabilitation of flood affectees in Sindh has been redirected into the coffers of MPA’s and the Benazir Income Support Programme, and that it is expected to be used for political purposes, comes as absolutely no surprise in a country where greed and corruption are increasingly rampant.
It must also be remembered that the ‘sidelining’ of this money, as donated by international sources and from private philanthropists and which was intended to help the victims of last year’s flooding in Sindh, many of whom had not yet been able, again as a result of the ‘disappearance’ of aid money, to rebuilt their homes, lives and livelihoods after the unprecedented floods of 2010 let alone the far more recent ones of last year, is a clear indication to anyone - national, international, private or otherwise - that to try and help suffering Pakistanis in the wake of any kind of disaster is a complete and utter wastage of financial resources, and indeed other resources too, as blatant criminality not merely exists, but is, quite undeniably, rife in all existing governmental circles.
To make matters worse, the ‘aid game’, all too often one of raking in unwarranted profits all along the line, is fast becoming nothing more than an irresistible route to ‘easy money’ for those unscrupulous enough, and sadly there are lots of such perverts around, to, quite literally, take potential homes, clothing, health, education, water and even food out of the mouths of the suffering masses, who can do nothing to prevent it: This despicable state of affairs is further highlighted by the known fact that any NGO applying for grants or funds from wherever they are still to be found, have first to negotiate with some kind of goonda, who demands, and usually gets, up to 25 percent of monies so granted and has the sick audacity to consider this ‘reward’ for the work done…….this work merely being to recommend that money is given to one NGO rather than another.
The level to which people are now stooping to rob the poor, underprivileged masses is beyond the comprehension of the shrinking percentage of truly honest people in a society infected with exploitation, corruption and sheer, at times unbelievable, wickedness and further more a society which proudly claims to be Islamic, but which, especially during the recent past, has strayed a very, very long way from any recognisable Islamic path, moving instead along a speeded up conveyor belt to hell.
Trust and honesty are rare traits, indeed, in these increasingly dire times in which it appears that almost everyone, from the highest down to those inhabiting the very bottom rung of the ladder, are purely out for personal gain - no matter the ultimate cost to others. A sick society, as has undeniably arisen here in the so-called ‘land of the pure’ is, historically speaking, a visible sign of a rapidly failing one and a failed society results, ultimately, in a failed country and war.
That the country has been allowed, encouraged even, to begin unravelling at its always rather fragile seams, is evident wherever one looks: Unprecedented shortages of electricity, gas and fuel being the first major ‘unravelling’ to come to mind, closely followed by massive black holes in the deteriorating educational and health systems to name, but two more of a myriad problems endured by an expanding and increasingly demanding population, who are finding it difficult to make ends meet and whom as a direct result, following the example of their ‘leaders’, see absolutely nothing wrong in resorting to dishonesty as a means of topping up income levels. Take the electricity distribution services, for example, which, in addition to continual loadshedding, are further drained and disrupted by literally millions of illegal connections, the majority of which are clearly visible to anyone and everyone on the ground, including the staff of whichever electricity company operates in that particular area, and yes, a high percentage of these illegal connections are the handy work of linemen and other electricity company staff who are, or so it appears, blind to the crimes they commit as their one and only god is money.
In a society headed up by blatantly power hungry, money hungry politicians, it is, and this is a very unfortunate side of human nature, only natural that a certain percentage of the population follows suit. But, here in Pakistan, this percentage is sinfully high, indeed, and is increasing in leaps and bounds due to the fact that the task of making money, legal or illegal as the case may be, has come to dominate all other aspects of existence and that to lead a less well-off yet honest life is viewed as being not only unacceptable, but stupid too!
At the rate the country and societal degeneration are going, it will not be long at all until, for whatever perceived reason, the people are, literally, attacking each other in the streets in a public manifestation of the dacoit lurking within, unless, that is, the ‘land of the pure’ slides into the nether world of ‘failed states’ first in which case the dacoits will well and truly have won.
The writer is author of The Gun Tree: One Woman’s War (Oxford University Press, 2001) and lives in Bhurban.