A meeting of the federal Cabinet on Wednesday decided that generals and judges should also declare their assets. The Establishment Division would prepare a report so as to make it compulsory for government servants to submit a declaration of their assets. In principle, the decision is justified, not just because elected officials have to submit annual declarations of assets, but also because of the culture of corruption that is the bane of national civic life. However, the politicians’ annual declarations, submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan, have not been fruitful so far, as they have not brought to light their foreign holdings, which are the favoured means of storing the proceeds of corruption. It is to be expected of the Establishment Division to address this issue, and ensure a full and proper declaration of assets by judges and generals.

It must not be portrayed that this step is being taken out of any desire to persecute them, or to bring them under government control. Should such complaints be heard, they will be considered admission of some sort of guilt and the only possible recommendation then will be to redouble the efforts for such declarations to be made public, with the greatest of speed. Generals uniformly spend their working lives in government service, having joined it after their intermediate, or even their matriculation. Doctors would be an exception, for they would only have joined the military after completing a medical education from a civilian institution. This needs to be taken account of. Judges assets accumulated in service must be scrutinised.

There should be no spirit of revenge or competition in these declarations of assets, because the ultimate aim, bringing to an end the menace of corruption, should be dear to all. The Establishment Division must come up with proposals that are not only workable and do not hurt anyone’s feelings, but also meet that goal, of cleaning up the system.