maria miller BBC

9 April 2014: The above screen shot is from BBC News about a UK Minister resigning from her job because she claimed over expenses.

A mere £5,800 which she now has to return to the Treasury. Which on today’s exchange rate are less than $10,000 and less than 1 million PKR.

She’s not the first one to be disgraced. There have been earlier instances too.


You may ask: What’s the big deal about such a small amount?

I have spent 10 years with the British. Three years in Britain for an unfinished PhD and later full-time work in London. And seven years in British Council Pakistan, where I was a Country Director for Management Development.

During those years, I saw some BC employees getting fired for a mere 500 PKR wrong claim.

Case in point: An officer claimed that he had loaded a scratch card for 500 PKR ($5) on his personal mobile for official calls for which he was permitted. He claimed the expense, without buying the scratch card. A call to cellular company confirmed that his last scratch card was last month, not this month. In a minute, he was shown the door.

The countries which are law- and rule-abiding cannot let people – even their brightest and highest – to breach the rules and over-claim. It brings the whole social structure down.

Patwari BBC

16 April 2014: Let’s look at another screen shot from the same BBC News in Urdu, above.

It is about a patwari, a land record keeper from KPK.

In exchange for his release from police custody, he has promised to repay 23 million PKR to National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The above amount on today’s exchange rate is $232,000 and £136,700.


Scares you?

Since Pakistan got independence from the British in 1947, nearly every patwari in Pakistan, dead or alive, had amassed staggering wealth, if not the same proportions.

And they jokingly say: Even the world’s most feared man, Osama bin Laden, had to bribe a patwari to get his land records for his Abbottabad hideout.

However, this post is not about patwaris. This is about those people who collected wrong and over claims through these patwaris and their equivalents in other government departments.

Messed-up Pakistan Series: No 1 crime is Fraudulent Claims 

Claims – add fraudulent to it – have been the Pakistan’s first and foremost ailment, a criminality which plagued this country.

When people migrated from Indian part of the subcontinent to what was now Pakistani part, and started making claims for lost businesses, properties and jobs, what emerged was an industry of lies, deceit, bribing, favour exchanges, blackmail and use of force.

Truth, honesty and ethical dealings took an early, very early exit.

Even the best among us and our forefathers fell for it – knowingly or unknowingly. Those who were sharper, they saw an opportunity in it. The claim industry proved to be scalable.

They became the dealers and a new mafia emerged. Everybody – common man, the nambardar, the saeen, the khan saab, civil bureaucracy, military men and their cronies took advantage from this.

Resultantly, Pakistan didn’t remain a liveable place for the honest. Either God took them or sent them away – to other continents.

The honest minority which decided to stay here became a complaining, moaning and whining community, indulging in self-pity. You could see them chatting in groups outside mosques after prayers. No one around them was trustable any more.

Soon, claims industry became institutional. It co-opted land grabbers, police protection and bhatta (protection money) mafia.

Did anybody, any institution care? Did the judiciary or law-enforcement brought system-wide cleansing? No.

See also: 

South Asia world’s most corrupt region: TI

How China punishes its powerful generals & officials for corruption

10 trucks of corruption money, loot of a Chinese general

The cost of corruption

Life in prison for corruption for China’s most powerful security chief

Will Pakistan’s courts ever find ways to deliver speedy justice?

Where is your country on Development-Corruption Matrix?

Claims then became the norm for seeking government jobs, permits, tenders, supply orders, anything and everything.

And brought us here into 2014.

Today, we are world’s ninth least peaceful and 10th most-fragile country.

Good news: Although we are only half of us (our other half was lost as Bangladesh), we are still alive. So there’s some hope.

There’s a counter claim too: Fighting corruption won’t end poverty; a capable state will

To leaders of Pakistani society: Can we do something about fraudulent claims in #Pakistan2050?

This is Part 1 of How we messed up: A series by Wali.

The Series looks only at events and patterns that impacted Pakistan in the past. No present assessment. No solutions suggested. That’s elsewhere on this blog.

Will appreciate your comments. Stay tuned for Part 2.

Part 2: The Sultan Rahi Syndrome: Messed-up Pakistan Series 2

Part 3: The Monopoly Curse: Messed-up Pakistan Series 3

Part 4: The Ummah Card: Messed-up Pakistan Series 4

Wali Zahid is founder of two reform movements – Tehreek-e-Adl aimed at social and political reform in Pakistan, and #HumanizeMedical, aimed at global medical education reform ( A social media strategist, he can be reached at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Plus.

Tailpiece 1: Study Shows How Ethical Lapses Start Small and Grow Over Time

Just one small ethical lapse can snowball into big trouble, according to a study released June 25. The same kind of slippery slope that Bernie Madoff said led to his $18 billion Ponzi scheme can make workers and companies vulnerable to scandal — unless managers snuff out ethical transgressions that may seem minor, write four business school professors in the study.

Also: Power DOES corrupt even the honest: study

Tailpiece 2: Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam passed away yesterday. BBC Urdu published his obituary. One para, related to expenses here. Compare this with our leaders – political, civil, military, religious 🙁

Abul Kalam expense

See also: In a corruption-riddled world, Pakistan is better than one-third countries: TI

Understanding Pakistan Series

What to expect in Pakistan in 2017

Back to the future: Pakistan in 2050

Wali on Pakistan of future

Long Term Orientation in Pakistan: from Zero to 50 in 2 years

Pakistani culture through 6-D Model

Native languages in Pakistan

How future oriented are we?

How we messed up Pakistan: A series by Wali

Pakistan’s two value crimes no one talks about

Is Whatsapp your source of info? Welcome to Project Ignorance

  • Samrah

    Sadly this psyche is every where and we all have adopted it as our right! Particularly speaking about Patwari system, can’t we have some alternate system to collect taxes and keep records!

    • Wali Zahid

      Thanks Samrah. Have used patwari only as an icon and facilitator of fraudulent claims. As the government reforms the system, which the Punjab Chief Minister said they will by next year, the real issue remains: all of us using claims to weaken the social and moral fabric. That is where the real intervention is required.

      • Ameer

        The root cause of Pakistan being messed – up is identified here and if I have understood it correctly its corruption.

        But corruption does exist in our neighbouring country, India, which got independence at the same time.

        Then, why is it so that India, with all its problems, is progressing and we are pessimistic about our future?

        • Wali Zahid

          Thanks Ameer. Corruption has yet to come. It’s meta factor. I am picking on micro factors. Stay tuned!

  • Shahnaz Farooq

    The comparison of other countries and Pakistan in terms of money claimed is astonishing…..the bit on BC mobile card episode should be a lesson for all…. i.e. dishonesty is dishonesty whether it is for a small amount of Rs. 500 or of a million rupees. Having worked for British Council as Director Examinations for more than 16 years I can quote another example of a team member who claimed a faked medical bill for a few hundred rupees and was shown the door immediately although he had been working for around ten years in the British Council. These examples tell us that dishonesty committed even once is punished by these countries since they have very high standards when it comes to trust and integrity. Personally I feel that this one reason of dishonesty of faked claims at all levels is the reason why we Pakistanis are suffering. May Allah help us to help ourselves…….

    • Wali Zahid

      Thank you Shahnaz for supporting with another example. Your organisation did the right thing: because once small, these fake claims get bigger and bigger and bring their own force with them

  • Waqas Ahmed

    After the birth of this country it was taken over by those who were rent seeker and posses no capability of governing & running a state. The first crime they committed,they tempered moral values of common man by offering bribes and tips. This generation set & define new social and moral laws which was based on corruption, nepotisim and favouritism in this country. Gollu Butt is the product of this system.

    • Arwa Khuzaima

      I read your article Wali and though I’d have loved to wish it wasn’t true, but every syllable of it is true. We all keep blaming the system or people or anybody but ourselves. I believe I as a teacher hold myself responsible for the fraudulent behavior we see in our country and all around us. We taught children to cheat coz they either came out shining or stood small and useless. So lets do some soul searching and rectify ourselves before we mess it more than it is already messed.

  • Rehmat Ullah Kundi

    Pakistan in particular and Muslims in general messed up themselves when they totally rejected modern education and science and insisted on centuries old ways of Madrasa system which were run by lukewarm and disorganized groups. For their own convenience, they divided the knowledge into two contradictory streams of education: Secular and Religious. Finally Muslims are learning from the centuries old mistakes and trying to put things on track. It is an uphill task because we have so far not tipped the balance in favour of modern education. One major problem with our society is the absence of Amr Bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkar (امر بالمعروف و نہی عن المنکر). If people start reporting and raising objections about unlawful activities then no one would dare to indulge in such illegal and immoral activities. In most cases it is our indifference that encourages criminal elements to continue with their illicit behaviour .

    • Noman Malik

      I agree with u sir. We are still following the old 20th century didactic approach but world is doing something different.

  • Khurrum

    Mr. Wali Zahid.

    Pakistan corruption’s is never famous before on international forums. Your channel and best use of social forums like twitter, face book and now LinkedIn by our sincere and selfless Pakistani journalist giving real pictures of Pakistani corruption.

    Because of all these efforts, Pakistan stands on the top among corrupt nations.

    So far so good, Pakistan did not support UAE on 2020 World Expo bid, another mindful approach.

    Pakistanis are least preferred nation, in terms of employment opportunities outside Pakistan.

    Pakistani politics is good, if it is within Pakistan not on International forums.

    Best regards,

  • Wahaj Junaidi

    We are way behind in terms of Social Evolution. While we have evolved biologically as Homo Sapiens, I think we possess very different inherent traits related to social development. We are progressing as individuals, but have not acquired the traits to develop as effective societies. Our overdependence on religious values, and population overgrowth (again based partly on religion) have led to a chaotic group of ineffective people who do not possess the qualities to form modern societies. We continue to grow in numbers, leading to further resource exhaustion, and poverty. This is fact is the root of our problems. Illiteracy and corruption are a result of this population explosion, and maybe corruption serves as an adaptive/survival mechanism in this chaotic society.

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