The subject of folly is likely to be touched again and again in these columns. Today I feel like writing about a long-opted and long-indulged folly that has very often been eulogized as a virtue. Let me name it as the Folly of Accountability.
There cannot be two opinions now about the fact that, for over half a century, it has gone horribly wrong. In practice accountability has become “accuntabilism” the art of eating sacrificial victims, apparently to ward off ‘evil’ but in effect to eliminate rivals, adversaries and such elements that are not recognized as vulnerable to temptation.
Ayub Khan used ‘accountability’ to demolish those who posed a perceived or a real threat to his monopolistic control over power. More than three hundred ‘thoroughly’ corrupt and ‘unreformable’ souls were “EBDOed’ out. General Yahya Khan brought his own kind of accountability into play. As did ZAB and Zia subsequently. Mian Nawaz Sharif adopted ‘accountabilism’ as his political religion and appointed his most trusted crony-Saifur Rahman’ as the Head Priest. General Pervez Musharraf recognized quickly the advantages of having an institutionalized temple to pay homage to the goddess of accountability and righteous behaviour. Mian’s Ehtsab cell became Musharraf’s National Accountability Bureau where ‘evil-doers’ were brought either to earn redemption through ‘prescribed rituals’ or face extinction.
Accountability in practice is different from accountability in theory.
In practice it has been used and will continue to be used as a weapon of destruction against the perceived enemies or non-conformists.
In theory it is designed to promote goodness and punish evil.
It’s true that systems go wrong because of individuals. The right set of controls will enable us to prevent individuals from wrongdoing.
But if ‘ corruption’ can’t be prevented at the stage it ‘happens’ the so – called process of ‘accountability’, far from punishing ‘the corrupt’ becomes a more lethal instrument of corruption itself.