A dummy’s guide to corruption

Published: January 24, 2012

It’s the people’s tax money and you are the peoples' servant. You deserve to have a grand lifestyle to be able to serve them.

Corruption is shameful. But when no one is looking it may become tempting. For those who land a government job in our beloved country with large funds at their disposal. Here is some advice on how to sell your soul:

  1. Kill your conscience: Corruption is not for the weak-hearted. You have to believe that it is not a sin but your right to survive in this competitive world. You need to keep telling yourself that if you make enough money, you will do some charity work for your fellow countrymen.
  2. Educate yourself: Don’t make the fatal mistake of choosing your designation and learning about the perks later. There is a huge difference between the Ministry of Education (near zero) and the Ministry of Petroleum (black gold) and only prior information will help you make a more informed decision.
  3. Choose wisely: Once you are done with your research, you will realise that a grade 18 officer in the Interior Ministry has more benefits than a grade 22 officer in the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis. Surprisingly, a director or commissioner’s position in the Foreign Affairs Ministry is definitely more valuable than the Minister of State in Religious Affairs. It’s better to collect hard cash, foreign trips and tender assigning authority over a government paid security squad, housing and utility bills.
  4. Act rapidly: You haven’t worked a day in your life, fine! But this is different. Don’t sit idle for even a day when you have landed the dream job. Stop acting like a camel. Behave like a frog! Democracy hardly survives in our country, so quickly apply for renovation funds for both your government office and personal residence. If you’re a minister, don’t forget the bullet-proof four-wheeler. Make a wish list and claim all of it on government money. It’s the peoples’ tax money and you are the people’s servant. You deserve to have a grand lifestyle to be able to serve them.
  5. Make friends and share: Your immediate boss, his boss, the contractor, the vendor, the supplier – everyone is a friend. They are your lifelines in the most competitive life-changing game show. The circle goes like this:  you choose contractor-friend’s unmerited tender over many other eligible ones and get it approved by your boss who’s also a friend. Both you and your boss get all-paid 5-star holiday packages to Europe along with your families. Everyone is happy. Your kids love you, your wife is proud of you. It doesn’t matter if the newly built road by your contractor-friend is in shambles after only six months of being built. This is Pakistan. We get acidic rains.
  6. Trade: Trade everything from small pieces of information to large chunks of scrap material, dysfunctional air conditioners, broken furniture, etc. In one line, no file moves ahead of your desk unless it has a thick, sealed envelope that reeks of fresh currency. You could see your cut on almost anything, unless you have cataract.
  7. Invest smartly: Don’t keep all your earnings in one area. Distribute them. Property, bank accounts, jewelry, automobiles, shareholding – pick them all. Send your son(s) abroad to study and pay the total fee altogether. Marrying off your daughter(s) when you are in power means better proposals for them and even better gifts. Put your assets in your family members’ names. It helps declaring the least assets in your name in the next elections while your wife, (a housewife) owns a car showroom, a 16 storey office building in central Lahore and has a one-third stake in an airline. Don’t forget to invest in property and business abroad for bad times.
  8. Stash cash away: There may come a time when everyone will become your enemy and you’ll lose all your assets in the country. Two institutions starting with the letter ‘N’ (sounds like cab) and ‘S’ (behaves like Santa Claus) may confiscate them. For such times, you will need money to run the kitchen. So stash away some good amount to a foreign bank, preferably Swiss. They prove to be the toughest for local authorities to gain access, unless they write a letter, which they don’t.
  9. Learn to swear: It’s a mean world out there where TV anchors invite you to their talk shows and demand the truth while showing documentary evidence. Any such appearance may turn ugly when you’d be asked upright live on national television if you have indulged in corruption. For such a crisis situation, learn to swear on the grave of your dead leader, on your faith, and the life of the anchorperson that you are as clean as a newborn.
  10. Be brave and brace yourself: Corruption is not for cowards. You simply cannot hide evidence that clearly speaks of your deeds which may land you in prison when the government changes. So from time to time, whenever you get to meet officials from the interior ministry and prison, treat them with utmost respect and shower them with gifts and meals. It will pay off when you are jailed.

Arif Ahmed

Arif Ahmed

A corporate communications professional and co-founder of a Karachi based NGO.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • sarfraz

    Good advice!
    But we have got so many corruption legends that one can easily learn the ways they do corruption!! Recommend

  • keaga

    hahhahaha…great…you hit the nail on the head…the first point says it all…beautifully written and funnyRecommend

  • Gulreez

    Haha……..good wok.Recommend

  • http://www.helppakistan.org Irfan A Rehman

    Arif: this is the a unique piece of work, excellent work. Sadly since from the creation of Pakistan this country is ruled by few families and which are obviously rich, don’t know what is the real issue of the 18 core masses. Such curse are being thrust upon by this corrupt and rotten system which are serving only the rights of elites in which superior judiciary, parliament are also in them. Despondency are spread every where by the drama every day creating by these political jokers and stage are being step up in the fedral capital and headlnes are coming that PM commit contempt of court,other parties will levelled shamefulll allegation on one another and the situation goes from bad to worst due to which sense of anary and chos prevail thats is democarcy in Pakistan.Another stage will be setup in court and spectators will be 18 core ordinary masses which will be the silent spectator when PM Gilani appeared in court.All state organs are making fun on public due to which unstable situtation exist every were.From coming out of present confusion evry state institution will work in there own domain and respect the law of the land which never happened.

    Your article is a guide to the new politicians :p

    keep writing,

  • Umar

    This is a mockery of all those honest and patriotic officers and parliamentarians this country has. I agree this is a kleptocratic system where corruption is in over-abundance but damaging the reputation and self esteem of all officers and parliamentarians is truly categorised as profiling, I thus believe there should at least have been a note or mention in the conclusion in favour or recognition of there services.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Entertaining stuff. Recommend

  • Amjad

    I think that corruption is endemic in all Muslim countries and it will only stop when we start building institutions. From North Africa to the Middle East to Central Asia and to Pakistan, the world thinks of Muslim nations as being synonymous with corruption. Only last week I heard of many Iranian bureaucrats who have stashed illegal ill gotten cash in Canada. The governments of Muslim countries are either complicit or powerless to stop the corruption of their peoples.Recommend

  • Saleem

    @Amjad , glad to know your myopic views though they are misdirected. Corruption has nothing to do with religion of country. Very wrong generalization and God knows from what research you got your enlightened assumptions. Maybe one of those sermons where mullah is telling how ‘ALL’ islamic country rulers are puppets of amreeeka !
    Corruption has more to do with economic conditions of country and population as whole. Corruption is highest in african countries and among muslim countries the gulf states have proportionately low corruption among government officials than many other countries though I am telling this from my limited experience of travelling to various countries. Do some research before publishing your thesis :)Recommend

  • Vigilant

    Most of the tips you mentioned work for sharks or Crocodile…..not for small fishes…..policeman, meter-reader, clerical staff etc……they cannot run-away to westren countries in hard times…..
    & you forget to mention hiring of your family members to the same department…..& most important……..never to make anyone enemy in the department no just for gaining benefits but to avoid complaints, anonymos tips to anti-corruption department & surfacing of evidences……

    There is most common perception that only government departments has corruption but being an employee to world biggest construction firm……both large & small enterprises are full of corruption….much more than Gov. departments…..then what would you suggest me…. :pRecommend

  • x

    Haha witty, intelligent and sadly, too true a picture of our officers and parliamentarians.
    What’s even sadder is that those who are honest and strive to do good often end up suffering, passed over, slighted, snubbed, harassed and maligned.
    Let’s hope that the need batches do not lose heart and remain steadfast on the right path as the current system and prevailing ethics need a complete overhaul. Recommend

  • Grace

    Corruption will only stop when Muslim parents teach their kids values. We all complain about politicians but what about what we teach our own families. Reminds me of a relative who called the policeman corrupt when the policeman refused to accept a bribe. We always like to call others corrupt but but we don’t look in the mirror when we cheat, ask for preference over others, don’t pay taxes and don’t fulfull our own respnsibilities. Somehow we like to think only generals and politicians are corrupt because they are eating money but all citizens are themselves corrupt.Recommend

  • Amjad

    @Saleem: Sorry to say it but the Gulf Arabs are probably the most corrupt of any Muslim nation. When a small band of British sympathizers are gifted oil rich Kingdoms by their British colonial masters, you think that they would behave any other way? They are all autocratic states where all the power resides in the hands of a superior class of royals who are above the law. When they kill or harm anyone, they are above the law. All business deals results in further monies enriching their pockets. As for the people there, these rulers have to buy off the common civilians with monetary gifts from fear of revolt as was recently demonstrated in Kuwait. Think about the 60 billion looted by the Mubarak family in Egypt or the 100 billion looted by the Gaddafi clan in Libya. Puts our petty politicians and generals to shame!Recommend

  • Maria

    Hey what about the corruption of expatriate Muslims in the UK, Europe or Canada. So many of them are on social assistance which is state khayrat for the sick or disabled when they are working under the table. I know in Canada almost all Somalis and Afghanis live on welfare but then they sometimes cheat and do so many illegal things. Whether it’s Arabs in France, Turks in Germany, Iranians in Sweden or Pakistanis in the UK, all these Muslim groups are involved in cheating or fraud of some kind or another. Maybe the people themselves are corrupt and that’s why all the leaders are corrupt too.Recommend

  • Saleem

    @Amjad , thank you for your new search results. Though I am not sure what criteria you used to find who is ‘most corrupt’ of any Muslim nations. You need to get back to history 101. The britishers did not gift the land . These were tribal leaders even before British landed on the place. They gave British right to set up millitary post in return for providing security. Btw , I am not talking corruption of rulers. You can not call a nation as corrupt if Ruler is corrupt . By your criteria , USA has to be most corrupt ( the way you generalize things ) . Bush ordered a war for oil gains in order to provide contracts to US oil companies and huge contracts to halliburton where cheney is sitting on board. You need to get your facts right. I was talking about corruption in governance ( and NOT GOVERNOR !!! ) which is very low in gulf states. Your view of world is only shaped by reading few months news of Egypt , Kuwait etc … do expand the horizon. Recommend

  • stenson

    @Saleem: I was in the Gulf lately and it all sounds pretty corrupt to me when a prince who tortures some Afghani labourer gets away with no jail. If you are a royal member, you have your own laws, if you are some common gulf arab you have a few laws unless you cross a royal and if you are a foreigner, this is no law especially if you cross a royal or a common uneducated bedouin. Even Pakistan has more law than most Arab countries. Why do all Westerners consider Arabs the most corrupt people on the earth?Recommend

  • http://solomon2.blogspot.com Solomon2

    “Your immediate boss, his boss, the contractor, the vendor, the supplier – everyone is a friend…Everyone is happy. Your kids love you, your wife is proud of you. It doesn’t matter if the newly built road by your contractor-friend is in shambles after only six months of being built.”

    Yes. Very often it is only the people who are not liked by their superiors or even their co-workers who are worthy of public trust. Not a pleasant lesson.Recommend

  • Saleem

    @Stenson, ‘westerners’ are no authority to decide who is corrupt or not unless you are too obsessed with ‘west’ and they have made you believe that rest of world apart from them is illiterate gawar. You are so full of pain for one royal who tortured an Afghan , just for your info , this royal was stripped of his government position and put under house arrest. HOWEVER as I mentioned earlier there has been no trial of the Royal Bush family who slaughtered hundreds of Iraqis and Afghanis on pretext of false WMDs !!! . Just see the extent of imbalance and STILL you dare to gauge the world through the eyes of west ? Ah , I know you may say that they have democracy and all that blah blah but again , its not people selecting the government , its CORPORATIONS making sure which government gets elected and once elected the government is going to secure the interest of these corporations around the world — through carrot or stick approach. Just open your eyes and get out of notion that except the west , rest of the world is corrupt and only angels live in west. Recommend