Sep 30 - Oct 06, 2002


Out of above 70 registered political parties only 8 parties signed a pledge to root out corruption at a seminar organised by the Pakistan chapter of transparency international in Islamabad last week. From amongst the main parties PPP was conspicuous by its absence President Gen. Musharraf who participated as the Chief Guest witnessed the pledge signed.

Transparency international had invited all the registered political parties to participate in the seminar on combating corruption in Pakistan and to pledge that they would implement the anti corruption package after the election.

The pledge was signed by PML-Q President Mian Muhammad Azhar, Millat Party President Sardar Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari, PML (N) leader and former Fiance Minister Sartaj Aziz, MQM leader, Farooq Sattar, Sindh Democratic Alliance President Imtiaz Sheikh, Jamat-e-Islami Deputy Secretary General Ashraf Malik, PPP (Sherpao) Iqbal Khattak and National Awami Party Pakistan (NAPP) President Ajmal Khattak.

The pledge they signed says:

"We, the political leaders of Pakistan, being participants at the convention of political leaders recognising the damage that is being done by corruption at all levels of our society, and particularly to the most poor among us;"

"Acknowledging that for years, corruption has been impacting and is continuing to impact, negatively on economic growth, retarding economic and social development at all levels of our society;"

"Acutely aware of the deepening poverty of many of our people and of the utmost urgency of the task of countering corruption both effectively and sustainable;"

And recognising that continuing international support for our country is largely dependent on the prompt and effective national anti-corruption strategy do hereby solemnly pledge to the people of Pakistan:

"As political leaders, we are deeply conscious of our duty to the people of Pakistan to combat the scourge of corruption that is a serious problem in many countries, and regretfully a very serious problem in our own beloved country".

"Those of us who emerge as the elected leaders of our beloved country will as a matter of the highest urgency come together to adopt and implement an effective anti-corruption reform programme which will strengthen accountability and transparency based on ensured access to information throughout all levels of federal, provincial and local government."

"Those of us who are elected and form the opposition will likewise play a full part in holding the government to account and to cooperate in non-partisan ways with the adoption and implementation of effective anti-corruption strategies."

"After the elections, and when the new government is sworn in, we will work together in a united front to evolve an effective system of accountability (including an independent and effective judicial system) to eliminate an evil that is undermining the future of our country and which is one that transcends the divides of political parties and persuasions."

"On a personal level, each of us gives our individual pledge that we are dedicated to serving the people of our country with the highest levels of personal integrity."

"Aware that the corruption crisis must be tackled openly by all, we invite every follow citizen to unite with us in a determination to rid our country of the corruption that has so retarded our country's economic and social progress at home and marred our international image abroad. The politicians on the occasion appreciated Transparency International for providing them a platform to discuss an issue of the national importance in an effort to weed out corruption form the society."

Speaking on the occasion Gen. Pervez Musharraf appealed to the people of Pakistan to elect honest and dedicated candidates in the coming election so that a country could have a clean leadership. He lamented the fact that the people in power stole over Rs.1.3 trillion between 1988 and 1999 making the country and its people poorer in every respect. He made an interesting observation in this context saying that 10 per cent people in this country are compulsively corrupt as against 10 per cent who will never be tempted while 80 per cent will move according to how easy or difficult it is to become corrupt. Through effective checks and speedy and derterrent punishment we can contain this majority of 80 per cent. To root out corruption completely from our society is almost impossible, he observed.

The pledge made by political parties to implement an effective anti corruption package after the election will be widely welcomed. If the undertaking is carried out with sincerity by all, corruption by elected representatives could hopefully be reduced considerably in days to come. This would improve the public image of politicians, which started getting tarnished after 1958 when Ayub Khan raised a nursery of politicians through the BD system, put development funds at their disposal and looked the other way as his political supporters used these for personal benefits. By the end of the time the Zia era ended, corruption had not only become a part of the political culture but had permeated into practically every section of society. It would be a falsification of history to assume that the phenomenon of corruption erupted in the country for the first time in 1988. It would also be a travesty of facts to assume that it is only confined to politicians.

There is an unfortunate tendency in every section of society to blame the other for gross dishonesty while pretending it is itself immune from the malaise. In the past whichever political party came to power instituted cases of corruption against its opponents while providing protection to the black sheep in its ranks.