Guide for Pak-Americans when dealing with bribery in Pakistan
Bribery is a way of life
in most of the world.
In the West, it's more sophisticated,
rearing its ugly head in the form of white collar crime, kickbacks and political
In the East, in countries
like Pakistan, bribery is found not only at this level, but it's become a way
of life even in day-to-day affairs. Getting your electricity to work, avoiding
traffic violations, or getting your child admission into a good school almost
always involve some kind of bribery.
Different people have different
ways of handling this. Some people never bribe or accept bribes. In stead they
use influence peddling to get what they need done. This is at least better than
Bribery is forbidden in
Islam, although few are aware of this. The Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings
be upon him) has said that the person giving the bribe and the person accepting
it will both be in the Hellfire.
Here are some ways you can
avoid being bribed and encouraging others to do the same:
1. Look for someone higher
The first place you may
encounter bribery is at the airport in Pakistan. A customs officer may decide
to bother you by asking for a bribe in return for a speedy processing of your
If this happens, talk to
the officer's supervisor. If this person is not available, then look for an
officer who has more stripes on his uniform and bring the issue to his attention.
Don't be surprised if the officer who tried to bribe you suddenly disappears
while you speak to his colleague of a higher in rank.
2. Know the procedures
Most of the time, bribery
comes into the picture when a person does not know the rules and regulations
of a process. So they end up offering bribes before they are even asked to do
so to get their work done. Dump the assumption that you HAVE to bribe. Nobody
has to. Take a firm stand and refuse to give or receive. If people bother you
use other methods to deal with this obstacle. And if you know the rules and
procedures, you are in a strong position to face off against a briber.
3. Make a scene
If you are in a public space
(i.e. the airport, a shopping center) becoming louder with the person trying
to bribe you can embarrass them and stop them from harassing you. But you should
also be prepared to deal with the possible repercussions of such an action.
Similarly, try to conduct
business in public place to reduce the chances of bribery happening. It's more
likely to occur when two people are alone together than when they are in full
public view. Public shame and humiliation still has a strong role in stopping
a number of crimes in Pakistan.
4. Challenge bribery
Even if end up being forced
to give in to bribery, you should not stop challenging this ugly practice. Islamic
scholars have allowed that if a Muslim is denied a right which he or she must
have because of a refusal to give a bribe and they have no choice about, bribery
However, this must not become
an excuse to make bribery a way of life. Report the incident to institutions
like the local branch of the National Accountability Board (NAB), which is aiming
to wipe out corruption in Pakistan.
5. Educate others about
the need to avoid bribery
You can display the above-mentioned
Hadith about bribery in homes, in public spaces and encourage merchants to post
it in their stores as a reminder to themselves and their customers.
You can also ask a local
Imam to give a Khutbah or Islamic lesson to mosque-goers based on this Hadith
about bribery, while suggesting concrete ways to resist it.
In addition, instill in
yourself contentment with what you have and promote it amongst family and friends.
Emphasize the need to avoid jealousy and envy in material things which often
leads people to bribe.
Date/Time Last Modified: 6/17/2002 3:49:02 PM
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