Unbridled greed translates to “tammah’. In Persian they say that the word is lethal as it has no punctuations or dots. It is a loose cannon with no limits. Individuals like Sharifs and Zardaris are a living proof of this curse. While in jail the Ex-President can neither eat nor walk while the Ex-Prime Minister is eating himself to extinction. Plight of these rich and powerful men should be an eye opener for leaders to follow.

Controlling greed has always been a challenge for mankind. If contained it can be a driving force to advance and grow but if it becomes a way of life it is self defeating. It brings to mind the famous story when a person was asked to own land that he could run across from sunrise to sunset provided he returned to the starting point during this time period. As he ran and ran in jubilation he forget the condition that he had to return from where he had started. Before he realized that it was time to go back to the starting point the sun had started to set. He turned back but it was too late, with all his speed he ran and ran till he was out of breadth. Just before the finishing line he fell to his death. He then got the land that he really needed 2.5 X 8.0ft where he could be buried for his next journey.

Pakistan started off well in August 1947. Most political leadership was able and honest. Despite the initial anarchy and plunder of assets left behind by the departing Non-Muslims the basic fibre of the nation remained intact. By and large people lived within means, there was simplicity and honesty.

Then started the era of rapid growth after October 1958. Easy money poured in, greed took control. Loans, permits, plots were doled out to a selected few. Nation building came to a grinding halt. Basic structure for development was already in place before the first take over, that included the following: Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL-for Sui Gas), Pakistan Ordinance Factory (POF) Pakistan Shipyard, Warsak Dam, Taking over of port of Gwadar, Planned Steel Mill at Kalabagh. The country was ready to emerge as the first Asian Tiger had it not been overrun by a greedy few.

Ayub Khan created his own ‘greed networks’ in connivance with third rate, hand picked politicians like the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, Wattoos of Okara, Khattaks of KPK, Khuros of Sindh etc. Some of his generals became leading industrialists together with the infamous 22 families that managed to control the wealth of the nation. East Pakistan and its people were largely ignored and left out of the so-called economic bonanza that took place.

After the break-up of Quaid’s Pakistan, the first elected government of Bhutto started the process of nation building. The first Steel Mill which was the basic unit of industrialization was setup at Karachi, Nuclear Programme was launched, huge investments were made in the defence production sector, fertilizer complexes were built, Resource Development Corporation (RDC) was formed to exploit the mineral potential of the country. RDC then launched the first ever large scale mining project at Saindak. It was then merged with Saindak Metals Limited the first large scale mining outfit of the country. Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) and Punjab Mining Company (Punj min) were significant efforts. The civil design house NESPAK was also conceived at that time.

Then it was Zia’s turn to create his own ‘greed networks’ like the Sharif’s and Khan’s of Lahore, Chaudhrys and Watto’s continued, Saifullah’s of KPK, Marwats and Jam’s of Sindh. Asif Zardari always admired the ‘Greed Driven Empire’ of the Sharifs created through political power. In the first stint of power of his wife he earned the title of Mr. 10% while he operated from outside the corridors of power, Benazir was able to contain his greed. During the second term he managed to become a federal minister and after her death the President and Co-Chairman of Bhutto’s left of centre People’s Party. Finally like the Sharifs, he too landed in the prison.

Loss of People’s Party which was once a genuine political force has been devastating for democracy. By contrast Pakistan Muslim League (N) has always been a party of personal interests and greed with no ideological basis. Everyone is there to make money, despite being in the woods their insatiable and unbridled urge for wealth has dominated the party and its leadership.

Imran Khan’s PTI is unique as the man on the top is honest unlike his opponents in other parties. However some unscrupulous elements have managed to enter the ranks of the party which has dented the credibility of Kaptaan’s movement for social justice. Fortunately the cleansing process has started to break the ‘Greed Networks’ of the past. Like speed, greed also kills. It may seem desirable and palatable to start with but one has to return to the starting point to consolidate the gains otherwise like the greedy runner the journey ends in the grave much before its time. Now that the Greed Networks are being shattered the only viable course for the greedy man is to quietly go home after ending their ongoing hostilities of greed and then try to consolidate and cover what they have already usurped. Let us start with a clean slate in whose vocabulary the term ‘Greed’ does not exist.