Aleem Khan, leader of the Punjab chapter of Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and a senior minister of the provincial government, was taken into custody by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) last week for allegedly having assets beyond known sources of income. He was arrested after he appeared before the anti-graft watchdog in a case pertaining to an offshore company revealed in the Panama Papers leaks. After his arrest, he resigned his post as a provincial cabinet minister immediately.

Since the PTI won the general election last July, the accountability process has speeded up, as the party’s election manifesto includes fighting corruption. However, the cases registered before PTI came to power were focused on. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family were put on trial, as were former president Asif Ali Zardari and his family. The opposition parties thus accused the PTI government of bias and targeting the opposition only.

With the arrest of PTI stalwart Aleem Khan, however, the opposition may have been silenced and forced to believe that the accountability process is fair and not biased.

Pakistan is country blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and natural resources. Snow-covered mountains, deserts, and beautiful beaches attract tourists. It is rich in minerals, gems, and raw materials most suitable for industrialization. A diversified climate, most suitable for agriculture, allows Pakistan to produce almost all types of fruits, vegetables, grains, and animal husbandry. Above all, Pakistan has a population of 220 million, 70% of whom are under the age of 40 years, providing a huge and youthful workforce.

In spite of all this, the nation is poor and under heavy debt. It is all due to corruption. Corruption is found at various stages throughout society, up to and including senior levels. The menace of corruption is a major cause of poverty in this nation.

Corruption also leads to social injustice and instability. Nepotism was witnessed by previous governments, as they appointed loyal but incompetent officials to key positions. These corrupt officials were facilitator for the rulers to loot public money and transfer it outside the country.

The PTI government in Islamabad is firmly committed to its fight against corruption. The party will not spare even its own people if sufficient evidence of corruption is found. The arrest of a senior minister of a sitting provincial government is one step in this direction. If the PTI compromises on corruption, it may lose public support. The people of Pakistan demand the rooting out of corruption from this society, completely and forever.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is dead honest and he may not have soft corner for anyone involved in corruption. It is a chance for Pakistan to eliminate this curse from the whole of society forever. Starting from the top, from previous prime ministers, presidents, ministers and business tycoons to civil and military bureaucrats, all will be tried if suspected of corruption, without any discrimination, irrespective of their status.

The accountability process may gain big momentum and move on a fast track and wider in scope in coming days.

——

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