Anti-corruption uprising: Korea and Pakistan on same path

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Pakistan is perhaps one of the few countries where the media – print as well as electronic, allocate much space to the developments taking place around the world – be it US presidential elections, American policies, ongoing wars in the Middle East, mass migration of people, natural disasters, tug of war among the big powers etc. But what draws more attention of Pakistani people is any report related to the uprising against the rules, voluntary stepping down of any ruler or his removal through accountability. And, whenever such development takes place anywhere, it becomes an example to be quoted here by the general public and opposition parties alike. The very recent example is that of the uprising against South Korean President and her impeachment.

Pakistani media published and telecasted regular stories on Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s first woman president and 64-year daughter of military dictator Park Chung-hee – who ruled with an iron fist in the 1960s and 1970s.

There is strange coincidence that President Park had been under intense pressure to step down before her term expires in February 2018, and the same situation is faced by sitting Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, whose term also expires in March 2018. Like Ms. Park is suspected of allowing her lifelong friend, Choi Soon-sil, to use their relationship to raise tens of millions of dollars from big businesses and letting her wield extensive influence over the running of the country, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also is confronted with corruption charges by the opposition parties. While Choi had been indicted on charges of coercion, fraud, and abuse of power and prosecutors said Park was an accomplice to the crimes, Pakistani premier and his family members are facing trial on the charges of plundering the national wealth and establishing offshore companies besides buying properties in the UK. These cases were filed against them last year after revelations made by ‘Panama Leaks’ jolted the country’s political arena.

And like hundreds of thousands of South Koreans had been protesting in central Seoul every Saturday calling on President Park to resign, the Pakistan too witnessed mass protests. Following six weeks of street protests, Ms. Park was impeached by the nation’s National Assembly, but here the tug of war continues in and outside the court and parliament.

Like other countries of the world, Pakistan too is beset with the menace of corruption. It is widespread at all levels from top to bottom in the government at the federal as well as provincial and local governments’ level. This menace is deep-rooted as from politicians to police, judiciary, military and even the agencies supposed to work as ‘watchdogs’ against the abuse of power, tax evasion, kickbacks, money laundering, land grabbing, writing off heavy loans etc are involved in it.

For this reason, Pakistan ranks the 116 ‘corrupt nation’ out of 175 countries, according to the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index reported recently by Transparency International. Corruption Rank in Pakistan averaged 108.29 from 1995 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 144 in 2005.

It is, however, encouraging that Pakistanis now openly talk about corruption and according to a recent public opinion poll conducted by Gallup Pakistan asking about the most disliked thing in Pakistan, corruption topped the list.

Although, the Republic of Korea is at the distance of thousands of kilometers from Pakistan, but the developments taking place there, would surely have an impact on the minds of people of Pakistan.

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