Wednesday, October 01, 2014


Gandhara

A Glossary Of Corruption In Pakistan

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Pakistan is in political turmoil after the Supreme Court fired the prime minister.

Yusuf Reza Gilani's ouster came at the end of a long legal battle. For years he ignored the court's directives that he write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen a corruption investigation against his leader, President Asif Ali Zardari.

The dismissal has made corruption one of the most talked-about subjects in Pakistan. In all likelihood it will be a major issue during the parliamentary elections later this year. The country was ranked 134th on Transparency International's most recent "Corruption Perception Index." Most Pakistani languages have adopted the word "corruption" from English but Pakistanis have come up with their own vocabulary to describe graft, with ingenious words and phrases to describe minor and major corruption.

Here is a short glossary of corruption in Pakistan:

Bakhsish -- Urdu equivalent of a tip. Small bribe paid to a security guard or watchman for letting one into an office. Also refers to small bribes.

Chai pani -- Urdu words for water and tea. It is used for widely acceptable small bribes or rewards in return for pushing the paperwork in offices.

File ko paheay lagana -- Urdu for "putting wheels on files." It means to bribe officials to cut through red tape or cumbersome bureaucratic processes or even get them to allow an illegal activity.

Kickback -- adopted into Urdu from English slang. It refers to large payments often made to government officials for giving out big contracts.

Lifafa -- Urdu word for an envelope. Refers to journalists who plant favorable news stories or write flattering opinion pieces in return for secret government payments often made with cash in envelopes.

Lota -- Urdu word for a metal or plastic vessel used for storing water used in purification rituals. A byword for politicians who cross over to the government benches or change political affiliations in return for money or government posts.

Monthly -- adopted from English, means paying a regular bribe to the police so they either turn a blind eye or provide protection to corruption.

Muthi garam karna -- literally "warming someone's palm" in Urdu. Refers to small bribes often paid to police or security guards to persuade them not to impose traffic fines. Also used for small bribes.

Ooper Ki Amadani -- refers to income beyond the salary in Urdu. It's used for people living beyond their means through bribes.

Through -- again adopted from English. It means having a special connection to an influential person by giving out money and expensive gifts.

Token -- a small bribe truck drivers often pay to police officers.


-- Abubakar Siddique

Tags: corruption

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About Gandhara

Gandhara is a blog dedicated to Afghanistan and Pakistan written by RFE/RL journalists from Radio Mashaal (Pakistan), Radio Azadi (Afghanistan), our Central Newsroom, and other services. Here, our people on the ground will provide context, analysis, and some opinions on news from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Send comments or questions to gandhara [at] rferl.org.