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Illinois or South Asia, Political Corruption is Universal

Pakistan Link , Commentary, Riaz Haq Posted: Dec 19, 2008

When Barack Obama was elected president, Governor Blagojevich of Illinois saw opportunity in the vacancy created in the US Senate. "I've got this thing and it's f------ golden, and uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for f------ nothing," he allegedly said, according to US Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago. Fitzgerald has the governor's recorded conversations demanding $500,000 to a million dollars to sell the senate seat.

How ironic! The governor of a major American state that is sending its senator to the White House as president got charged with massive corruption on December 9, 2008, the day designated as International Anti-Corruption Day by the United Nations!

This latest corruption scandal in the United States confirms that corruption exists in all parts of the world, including the industrialized world. However, this report also illustrates that, unlike Pakistan and many other less developed countries, there is greater accountability in the West for the people in power.

At the time of the recent India-US nuclear deal approval, members of India's parliament, including convicts released on parole, were offered all kinds of incentives to vote in a certain way. Both the government and the opposition tried desperately to entice them with promises of largess, influence and plum jobs in return for their vote. The opposition, however, could not match the resources of the governing Congress party and the deal was approved.

Not only is there lack of accountability, it seems that politicians such as Pakistan's President Zardari, widely known as Mr. Ten Percent , get rewarded by the illiterate electorate for corruption, with the assistance of amnesties arranged by the United States. It is what President Bush often describes as "soft bigotry of low expectations" when the West pushes for the pardon of corrupt politicians in countries such as Pakistan, in clear violation of the UN Conventions against Corruption . What is worse, such policies of condoning corruption are pursued in the name of promoting democracy in the Third World.
The behavior of condoning corruption in the Third World extends to the private sector as well, with American and European companies routinely engaging in bribery in Africa, Middle East and Asia. There are definitely laws on the books in the West such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in the United States.

Almost all ethics classes taught in the Western management schools and company training courses cover this topic. However, the question is whether these laws are really enforced and how often are the companies held accountable? Or do they simply rely on the foreign governments to report misbehavior?

It would be a fantasy to expect the officials and politicians on the receiving end to report incidents of bribery as they are the main beneficiaries. But I think the German, French, US, British and other governments of developed nations who claim higher moral positions should be cracking down on these reprehensible practices just to enforce their own laws and live up to their own higher standards. While it may be argued, and it is like putting the shoe on the wrong foot, I see it as the only hope we have of containing such widespread corruption in developing nations that is robbing their people blind.

Related Articles:

Jackson, Jr. Denies Wrongdoing in Seeking Senate Seat

Senate Appointment Tainted by Blagojevich

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