Corruption hurts everyone. It deepens poverty. It distorts social and economic development, erodes the provision of essential public services and undermines democracy. Instead of fair competition based on price, quality and innovation, corruption leads to competitive bribery. This harms trade and deters new investment.
Corruption is a universal challenge. No country is free from it. Cultural gift-giving traditions vary widely, but there is no country where the people consider it right for public officials to abuse their positions for private gain.
Corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain. It means that:
• decisions are taken not for the public benefit but to serve private interests;
• high-cost, overly complex and prestigious projects are favored over cost-efficient development projects making use of the most relevant technology;
• a private levy is imposed on public investment which may rise to as much as thirty percent of the cost of the project. Such inflated costs often add to the national debt;
• the environment is threatened. When environmental protection agencies are corrupt the very foundations of sustainable human development are eroded;
• human rights abuse flourishes. As corruption increases, regimes become more secretive, less tolerant of dissent and more fearful of the loss of power. Basic social and economic rights like access to medical care, education, adequate shelter and good water are threatened.
LFP stands for liberal values and democratic norms in the society striving to ensure basic liberties; and political, social and economic rights of the people.
Liberalism is not possible without opposing corruption which hurts the weakest members of society who have to bear the full consequences of corruption when they are denied such necessities as basic health care, education and access to justice.
Corruption, by definition, is exclusive: it promotes the interests of the few over the many. We must fight it wherever we find it. Combating corruption sustainably is only possible with the involvement of all the stakeholders which include the State, civil society and the private sector. History proves that government cannot tackle corruption effectively on its own, other than in highly authoritarian and potentially abusive ways.
LFP proposes to bring together people of integrity to work for systemic reforms at the national level. We do not propose to “defame” or attack individuals, but focus on building systems that combat corruption.
There is a need to focus on building an awareness that simply strengthening prosecution and judicial powers cannot by itself curtail corruption. The whole national integrity system needs to be viewed holistically.
LFP feels that the citizens should actively attempt to develop new and original national anti-corruption strategies and monitor national developments. We all can do this by lobbying our governments, by informing the media and bringing together people concerned about corruption in Pakistan.
The strategies may include, for example,
• Transparency and accountability in government procurement and other decision-making;
• An effective auditor general and ombudsperson;
• A free media and access to official information;
• A responsible business sector;
• An independent judiciary, investigators and prosecutors;
• An elected legislature with power to hold public officials accountable.
There is a need to develop a network of volunteers all over Pakistan contributing their time, energy and dedication to our cause. These volunteers should work independent of the government, commercial and partisan political interests: and should do their own fund-raising.
Building Islands of Integrity
Bribery and extortion often thrive in public sector procurement of goods and services. There is a need to develop islands of integrity which should be designed to safeguard public procurement from corruption. At its core, this is a binding agreement between all bidders for a project and the procurement agency. This integrity pact can enable companies to abstain from bribing by ensuring that their competitors will not be given a competitive advantage and that government procurement agencies introduce agreed measure to safeguard the bidding process and follow transparent procedures. The integrity pact could be backed by strict sanctions.
LFP believes that the movement against corruption must transcend social, political, economic and cultural systems. Attempts to expose or investigate individual cases of corruption would not solve the problem; this should be the proper role of law enforcement agencies, an independent judiciary and a free press. LFP proposes to place greater emphasis on prevention and on reforming systems. It is not sufficient to attempt to legislate people into honesty. We should serve as catalysts for national-level initiatives which are designed by local people and appropriate to their needs and circumstances.
Liberal Forum Pakistan
LFP stands for the promotion in Pakistan of liberal values and principles, and for freedom, responsibility, tolerance, social justice, equality of opportunity, rule of law, pluralism, supremacy of democratic norms, advancing free market economy, devolution of power and decision making, and decentralization.
Liberalism is not possible in the midst of corruption. LFP believes in complete transparency in all its own transactions and desires to maintain transparency of principles and procedures with regard to its own donor-related activities. It expects the same from the Government and all other political institutions. LFP accordingly expects all its supporters to oppose corruption from every possible platform.
LFP needs a group of devoted liberals even if the number is small. It desires commitment and quality rather than quantity. It expects these committed members to give LFP something that they have. We all should feel the difference in this regard!
The key words for preventing corruption are:
• creating awarenes
• deconcentrating power and promoting counter-power
• reducing opportunities for corruption
• guaranteeing acceptable incomes promoting moral integrity
• establishing transparency and maintaining supervision
How You Can Support
Everyone can make an impact on curbing corruption .
• By becoming actively involved
• By contributing his or her time
• By suggesting changes to improve the system
LFP has multiple concerns, as corruption undermines and distorts development; ethical, as corruption undermines a society’s integrity; and practical, as corruption distorts the operation pf markets and deprives ordinary people of the benefits which should flow from them.