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POLITICS & POLICY COMBATING CORRUPTION

 

COMBATING CORRUPTION

 

The corruption at the highest level was unpardonable and the corrupt should be punished

 


From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Islamabad
Sep 01 - 07, 2003 
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The one-day officially sponsored conference on "combating corruption in public and private sector", in Islamabad last week provided a good forum for interaction and discussion by the stakeholders on actions needed to fight the scourge of corruption apart from reviewing as to what has already been done in this regard.

President General Pervez Musharraf, addressing the 3rd and the concluding session, enumerated various measures taken by his government during the past 3 years to eliminate corruption from public sector. He said his government introduced a merit based system at selection and promotion level, autonomy to the State Bank and empowered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to inquire into cases of corruption. The local government system was now in place where the people could keep a watch against misuse of public sector funds, he said adding that the corruption at the highest level was unpardonable and the corrupt should be punished. At the government level it was mostly in the award of contracts, formulations of rules and regulations, collection of taxes and purchases for the organizations, he added.

The Board of Investment (BoI) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in collaboration with Transparency International Pakistan organized conference in an effort to sensitize the general public about the menace of corruption, to eradicate the malaise and to build the image of Pakistan so as to enhance the confidence of domestic and foreign investors.

This conference was attended by nearly 300 representatives from diplomatic corps, international lending organizations and various bodies in public and private sectors of Pakistan to sign an integrity pledged to the people of Pakistan. It was divided into three sessions. The speakers include Minister for Privatization and Investment Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Chairman NAB Lt. General Munir Hafeez, Executive Director of Transparency International Pakistan Shaukar Omari and representatives of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Abdul Rahman Qureshi, FPCCI Engr M.A. Jabbar, ICC Pakistan Tariq Rangoonwala, IMF Henri Ghesquers, World Bank John Wall and ADB Mashuk Ali Shah.

US Ambassador Nancy Powell and Minister of Foreign Affairs Khurshid Kasuri also speak on the occasion. The conference sought to translate the various national and international convention laws and action plans from world into action by taking a written commitment from the stakeholders to fight corruption in their own sectors. This would also get as a part of an image-building program to be developed by the government in order to improve the climate of investment in Pakistan.

President General Pervez Musharraf said that strong institutions, merit system and doing away of discretionary powers were the basic ingredients to check corruption, he said that other measures needed to beat corruption include reducing human contact through governance, improving the quality of law-enforcement agencies and an honest, dedicated and correct leadership.

Continuing, the President said that corruption had also badly affected the society by undermining good-governance and eroding rule of law, hampering economic growth and leading to poverty, stopping merit and undermining the standing and respect of the nation internationally.

He emphasized the need for encouragement of honest people at all the top levels so that they could give a lead to the majority of people in all the sections of the society, which would help in eradicating corruption. He also signed a document of pledge at the end of his address as a commitment to work for combating corruption.

 

 

During the question-answer session President Musharraf said that political issues would be resolved by following democratic and constitutional path. He said that political instability and sectarian extremism were creation obstacles in the realization of the greatness of this country. He said Pakistan has all the resources and capability to move forward and it did not need any aid, rather we have to put our house in order.

The President said there was a need to generate momentum to achieve objectives. He said even if there was interference on the political side, the government was in majority in the assemblies and any legislation could be passed to give momentum to governance. He said one should not be overly concerned to what was happening in the assemblies, as it could not stop the government from functioning.

National Accountability Bureau Chairman Lt. General Munir Hafeez in his address said an anti-corruption awareness campaign would be launched through youths with the cooperation of the Education Ministry.

Investment and Privatization Minister Dr. Hafeez Sheikh said strong conviction and determination was vital to uproot corruption which would pave the way for more investment and generating economic activities in the country.