Pakistan: A Culture of Corruption?

President Asif Ali Zardari, the current president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is accused of having accumulated billions of dollars beyond his known sources of income. Likewise, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is widely known as ‘Raja Rental’ for his involvement in a multi-million dollar scheme to ‘hire’ temporary power plants to make up for power shortages while he was minister of energy. Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered the National Accountability Bureau to investigate Ashraf’s personal financial gain from the deals.

Makhdoom Shahabuddin, now federal minister for the textile industry, 
is accused of approving the import of large quantities of ephedrine, a chem-
ical used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, while he was minister of health, and of taking kickbacks from the transaction. The Anti-Narcotics Force has frozen twenty-two of his bank accounts and he is currently on bail awaiting trial.

Down the food chain, Pakistani milkmen routinely adulterate their milk with detergents, urea, boric acid, starch, hypochlorite and salts. In a recent national survey on the perception of corruption, our land revenue officers were ranked as the most corrupt, followed by the police, taxation department, the judiciary and the electricity distribution sector. The military and education sectors came in as the least corrupt, in ninth and tenth places.

In Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), why is Pakistan at number 134 out of 182 countries? The group’s Pakistan branch claims that, according to its surveys, ‘49 per cent of Pakistanis have paid a bribe to an official in the government or the private sector during the last twelve months’.

Why is it that Pakistani leaders behave as they do? Why is it that our milkmen behave as they do? Why is it that milkmen – or leaders – in New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Canada – all in the top ten in the CPI – behave differently?

Do we really have a culture of corruption?

This is a question for ethonomics, a field of inquiry that studies the actual prioritization of values within a particular value system. Ronald Inglehart, a political scientist at the University of Michigan and the director of the World Values Survey, along with Christian Welzel, professor of political culture research at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, jointly developed the Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map of the World, which sheds light on the answers to this question.


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