This paper explores the part that the redistribution of evacuee property—the property abandoned by departing Hindus and Sikhs during the mass migrations after Partition—played in the institutionalization of corruption in Pakistan. By drawing on hitherto unexplored sources, including Pakistan's Rehabilitation Department papers, local police files and court records, it highlights the schemes of illegal appropriation, misappropriation, and paints a wholly convincing portrait of the scramble for millions of rupees worth of abandoned property in the towns and countryside of West Punjab. It shows how politicians, bureaucrats, powerful local notables and enterprising refugee groups grabbed properties, mainly by bribing officers charged with allocating them to incoming refugees, or by utilizing their personal contacts. The paper argues that the fierce competition for resources and temptations for evacuee property encouraged the emergence of a ‘corruption’ discourse which not only contributed to an atmosphere that was detrimental to democratic consolidation in the early years of Pakistan's history, but also justified later military intervention. This not only adds to the empirical knowledge of Partition and its legacies, but also makes a significant contribution towards our understanding of the transitional state in Pakistan.