Ehtesab Or Accountability

Ehtesab” or accountability means that any person who holds a position or authority is answerable for his acts and deeds.

Ehtesab” or accountability means that any person who holds a position or authority is answerable for his acts and deeds. As we all are answerable to God Almighty for all that we do in this world, so are the public or government servants and people in high authority answerable to the higher authorities, the courts and the government for their misdeeds in any form they might be.

It is an accounts sheet like the bank balance sheet showing the positive and negative points of one’s performance in one’s official or semi-official capacity, the feathers in one’s cap and the black spots in one’s career. This sheet should be available for every government officer, politician, parliamentarian, minister and anyone performing social and economic functions in an office, firm, company or any other place of work.

It is necessary to have a complete possibility of “ehtesab” in our society in which corruption, inefficiency, maladministration (misadministration) and favouritism have touched the highest peaks of the mountains of dishonesty and corruption.

Considering the urgent need for the eradication (total removal) of corruption and inefficiency from government departments and centres of power, our previous Parliament appreciably passed the Ehtesab Act in 1997, which had very high, noble and useful purposes and aims. The Chairman of the Ehtesab Bureau (= department) was given almost unlimited powers to bring all the rulers including the President, Prime Minster and governors and government officers, of whatever rank, to book, that is, to require them to explain their conduct.

The Ehtesab Bureau, with all its powerful machinery of workers under the Chairman, was given wide powers to give corrupt public officers a fair trial in Ehtesab courts and to get them punished deservedly by way of imprisonment, fine and confiscation (taking possession forcibly) of their properties by the government. Later, in 1999, the NAB (National Accountability Bureau) Ordinance was promulgated (was made to take effect) by the military government. This Ordinance was amended in 2001 and afterwards to make it more effective.

“Ehtesab” in Pakistan has a history, but not a very happy record of just trial and deserved punishmen of corrupt politicians and public servants. Ayub Khan declared “corrupt” politicians disqualified for holding public offices under PRODA (Public and Representative Offices Disqualification Act However, strangely speaking, several of the disqualified politicians and high government officers found their way back to seats of power through further corruption, misuse of law processes and favouritism.

Surely, the functioning of the NAB against those committing election frauds is necessary and welcome. In a country where the masses (common people) are mostly illiterate or ignorant and poor to the lowest degree, it is easy to misguide them or to purchase their votes. When the so-called elected assemblies come into existence on the basis of corrupt practices in elections, which we witness of every occasion, we cannot be ruled properly. The elected assemblies, as a result, cannot frame or pass laws that are truly needed by the society for quick and effective reforms and progress.

However, for a lasting and permanent treatment of the disease of corruption in Pakistan much more than the operation of the NAB Ordinance is needed.

Firstly, we need to educate our masses on a large scale in order to make them understand their rights and duties.
Secondly, the social and economic ills in the form of the feudal or “jagirdari” system and corruption in offices need to be rooted out. This will contribute to social and economic equality.

Thirdly, a very appropriate (right or suitable) political system needs to be introduced which can replace the parliamentary system of government.

Fourthly, the government in power needs to take revolutionary steps to increase agricultural and industrial production resulting in the lowering of prices within the country and in greater exports.

Fifthly, a sense (feeling) of high morality and devotion to noble principles is necessarily to be created among the people through the utmost (greatest) use of the mass media and our places of worship and educational institutions.
If accountability goes slow or the criminals manage to save themselves in some way, every government will stand discredited in the public eyes. The masses will continue to be backwardly helpless.