The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Pakistan: Drowning in Corruption

The meltdown in Pakistan continues. One by one, its key institutions are drowning in a tidal wave of sleaze. The political parties lost all moral authority years ago; now judges and journalists are under scrutiny for dodgy dealings.

The New York Times reports on these latest scandals, including corruption charges against the family of the chief justice of the Supreme Court and a scam threatening the credibility of one of Pakistan’s biggest television channels:

For now, the scandal is focused on Dunya News, a major television channel. On Friday, the Supreme Court ordered an inquiry of Dunya after it broadcast an interview with Malik Riaz Hussain, a real estate developer who claims to have given $3.7 million in bribes to Chief Justice Chaudhry’s son Arsalan Iftikhar in the hope of swaying court cases.

What shocked ordinary Pakistanis was not the interview — Mr. Hussain had already made similar accusations in court — but rather evidence that it had been rigged. Leaked studio footage, shot just before the program went live and during breaks, showed the hosts, Meher Bokhari and Mubashir Luqman, chatting cozily with Mr. Hussain, discussing the questions and priming his answers. “Why don’t you start talking about it yourself, otherwise it will seem planted, which it is,” Ms. Bokhari is seen telling him in Urdu.

Since regulations on television ownership were relaxed in 2007, the industry seemed to be one of the few bright spots in Pakistani civil society, shining a spotlight on the cesspool of Pakistani politics. In 2007, the media’s coverage of demonstrations against the military-led government of former President Pervez Musharraf was considered instrumental in Musharraf’s downfall.

To be sure, this latest scandal isn’t the first blemish on Pakistan’s Fourth Estate. Editorial independence is often compromised on behalf of the owners of the stations, and extremist demagogues are given platforms to propagate their bilious views.

But with corruption and over-the-top self seeking now credibly attributed to judges and journalists as well as the country’s notoriously short-fingered politicians, it is hard to see where a Pakistani turnaround could begin.

Published on June 18, 2012 2:30 pm
  • Kenny

    Come on!

    What country in the Third World is NOT drowning in corruption, in Heaven’s name?

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    The backward Islamic culture seems to encourage this type of behavior. The Honor, Honesty, and Truth of the evolutionarily advanced Western Cultures takes a backseat to the Greed, Dishonesty, and Lies of Islamic cultures. America has had terrible problems in Iraq and Afghanistan dealing with the corruption, simply because our culture makes it hard to understand. In American culture phrases like “Death before Dishonor”, “Honesty is the best Policy”, or “I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down the cherry tree” are concepts deeply embedded in the culture. Lying is actually recommended in the Koran, and the concept of Inshallah (if God wills it) is the perfect excuse not to do anything to make things better, is the exact opposite of the Christian “God helps those who help themselves”.

  • Kris

    Kenny@1: “in Heaven’s name”

    You said it.

  • Xiaoding

    Why, I had no idea this was happening!

    Thnk You,

    God

  • Crocodile Chuck

    Turnaround?

    Who brought that up? Since 1947, Pakistan is the sovereign that has best framed the question, ‘Why have a country?’

  • Ali

    The reason of Pakistan’s drowning in corruption is that dishonesty is becoming much dominant and even if someone is honest and faithful in his love for the country, he is pulled down by the corrupt people. The allegations on chief justice is a prime example of this, but i think he will prove himself as a tough cookie.