FINANCIAL corruption is all too often overblown. The media has a vested interest in publicising corruption stories, and is often guilty of overstepping its limits. This is a reality governments have to live with. Case closed. However, the matter is viewed differently when an election is near and the government is fighting a serious image problem and the ruling party has been taken to task by television channels. At the very outset of his latest stint as information minister that began a few months ago, Qamaruzzaman Kaira had shown his intent to match the tone of the government’s strongest detractors in the media — read television channels. His government now vows to directly take on the media in this sensitive phase leading to elections. To “combat” the “vicious” media campaign against it, the government has formed a four-member committee comprising federal ministers, seeking to “unmask forces stigmatising” the PPP.
Politically, the party rightly evaluates it will have to fight the negative perceptions of its rule in the context of the next election. It is also correct in pointing out that it has had the rawest deal from the media in recent years. At issue, however, is how the PPP government goes about dealing with this situation. What does the government plan to do in the not-unlikely event of its worthy ministers unearthing the bit of truth they are looking for? Turn to the media with proof? Also, if it is to be conceded that the media is biased, has it been inventing on its own all these surveys that paint Pakistan as one of the most corruption-infested places on earth? The latest of them is the National Accountability Bureau’s figure which says the country is being ravaged by corruption to the tune of Rs7bn a day. The best option for a government battling such allegations is to restore transparency to its workings. For instance, Mr Kaira could have made a better impact had he announced that the ministers and treasury MNAs who had in the past failed to file their tax returns now stand corrected and would open their accounts for public perusal.