I’ve heard about it all my life. I’ve seen it all around me. Its presence is undeniable. It appears in many forms. Its affect is on many levels. Its beneficiaries come in all shapes, sizes and moral whataboutism. It is here, and it is there, and it is everywhere. There is no escaping it anywhere. It takes no prisoners. Not one institution has existed without its effects. Its primary and ultimate victim is one: Pakistan.

That ten-letter word that Mohammad Ali Jinnah warned about at the time of the establishment of Pakistan in August 1947, that all leaders of Pakistan, civilian and military, have used in various ways, to gain more power, or to oust a government, or to be elected into power: corruption. It is, it was, and it will be a word that empowers, dethrones, realigns and reasserts. How it will become more than a mere word to take the power of an instrument of real change, only time will tell.

And Imran Khan, the current prime minister of Pakistan, has much to do before his self-declared war against corruption effects a tangible change that is beyond any party, beyond any political ideology, beyond any vested interest, beyond any residual anger, and beyond any immature need to have validation of a promise that sounded good in political opposition and in an electoral campaign. Khan needs time and resolve to do what must be done to rid Pakistan of corruption that has been one of the main reasons for its ongoing and long-term debilitation in ways that are hard to ignore, and too many to be tackled in a short, sharp, one-size-fits-all, painful process.

The fundamental is simple. Any process of accountability must be clean, transparent, thorough, based on allegations of real financial or other misdeeds, an unbiased investigative system, collection of verifiable evidence, a strong legal case that is free of political loopholes, a judicial inquiry that is without fear, intimidation, pressure or bias, and a judicial trial that is devoid of any indication of being a political or a personal witch-hunt.

What needs to be established without any ambiguity is the intention to do the right thing for the right reason. Corruption should not and must not and ought not and cannot be used as a tool of intimidation, political isolation of an individual or a party, and a systematic obliteration of political opposition. Elimination of corruption is an absolute the achievement of which is nothing more than a utopia that looks good on paper, and remains an impossible feat for even the most upright, the most honest, the most dedicated of leaders. A sincere and exhaustive process for elimination of corruption is what Pakistan needs. It will not solve all issues of Pakistan, but what it will do is send a message to those currently in power, or were ever in power. You will not be spared if for your personal gain, or political hegemony, or accumulation of unlawful wealth, you harm Pakistan. Period.

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