Muddled affairs

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Yet another saga of corruption has been unfolded by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the affairs of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and the petroleum ministry. The arrest of five top officials, belonging to the OGRA and petroleum ministry in connection with a 2020 petroleum scandal, has put a question mark on the performance of regulatory authorities.

Cases have been filed against government officials and two oil marketing companies (OMCs) – Fossil Energy and Askar Oil Services – for alleged involvement in issuance of illegal petroleum licences and allotted illegal import quota while the OMCs in question in connivance with the OGRA officials set up illegal filling stations across the country.

Every time a corruption scandal comes to the fore, fingers are raised at the performance of the concerned ministries and the top hierarchy that looked after the affairs of these institutions. In the above scandal, the petroleum ministry is responsible for the mismanagement and is answerable to the nation.

There is a need to hold a proper trial of all those officials and departments whose negligence caused suffering to the general public. More serious efforts on part of the concerned authorities are needed to work out ways and means to keep national entities free from scams. While these are public entities and the government agencies are to be blamed for the lack of transparency and accountability, the problem runs deep into our society. Pakistan ranks at 124 on the least corrupt nations index. There is a lot to be done if Pakistan has to improve on the index. Corruption is at par with the chronic problems this country has been facing for decades. While the elite class including the leaders, politicians and personnel from powerful institutions should be held accountable for any malpractices, the country cannot get rid of the problem until the change comes at the individual level. The corrupt practices happen in front of people who have become so indifferent to the culture that no one bothers. This needs to change if Pakistan has to get rid of the problem.