Sunday, December 6, 2009

Zardari, Bilawal buy 300 acres in Islamabad

A private company owned by President Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal Zardari purchased 2,460 Kanals (307 acres) of prime land in Islamabad, valued at a CDA price of over Rs 2 billion, for a mere Rs 62 million, proving after a long wait that a 1997NAB reference against Zardari for the same deal was justified, but had to be dropped then for lack of some missing links.

The deal which Zardari was accused of in 1997, was thus completed this March, 15 years later, after a complex process of legal cases, suits and counter-suits, between a person once declared by the then government as a front man of Asif Ali Zardari, another person believed to be closely associated with the president and a private company that is jointly owned by the president, his son and a few others.

Documents and legal papers, including the sale deed and court judgments given by the PCO-led Islamabad High Court, available with The News, prove that a Karachi-based private company, Park Lane Estates (Pvt) Ltd, purchased almost 2,500 Kanals of land near Sangjani from Faisal Sakhi Butt, who himself purchased the land from a Pakistani-American living in Houston, USA, named Muhammad Nasir Khan, for merely Rs 62 million. Nasir Khan was the original purchaser of this land in 1994 and was declared to be the front man of Zardari in the Ehtesab Bureau reference filed against him in 1997.

The latest officially CDA-assessed price of similar land, adjacent to the land in question, is Rs 850,000 per Kanal. If the Park Lane land is assessed on the basis of the rate fixed by the CDA, its market valuewould be around Rs 2 billion for the entire lot. A big chunk of land, adjacent to the presidentís land, is being acquired by the CDA at this rate although Zardari and his company got it for only Rs 25,000 per Kanal, a magic deal by all standards.

However, what is important to note is the fact that all the legal requirements were met in the purchase and transfer of this land to Park Lane Estates Pvt Ltd.

According to the Form-A Annual Return of this company, its share capital, as reflected in the SECP record, shows it has 120,000 shares of which Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Ali Zardari own 30,000 shares each. Zardari is shown as a Director and his son as a member with four others who appear as members and debenture holders.

Another man closely associated with Zardari, Muhammad Iqbal Memon of Federal B Area Karachi, is not only the Chief Executive of the company but is also reflected as its director besides owning 30,000 shares. Three other persons with the same address as that of Iqbal Memon own the remaining 30,000 shares. Memon was himself a much wanted man after the dismissal of the second Benazir government.

Besides President Zardari and Muhammad Iqbal Memon, the other directors are Rahmatullah Habib, Muhammad Younus and Altaf Hussain. All these directors and Bilawal Ali Zardari own the total 120,000 shares of the company as on August 31, 2008.

The purchase of the land at a throw-away price raises numerous questions about the president and his reported role in acquisition of the land in 1994, allegedly forcing the owners to sell their land to Nasir Khan, referred to in the Ehtesab Bureau reference as a front man. From him another middleman purchased the land in 2007 and when the PPP returned to power in 2008, the entire land was transferred to the company owned by Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto, the PPP Chairman.

The company documents prove that Zardari and Bilawal were majority shareholders, which raises questions about misuse of power and conflict of interest in such situations. The same charges were levelled by the Ehtesab Bureau in 1997 but then there were several missing links as the land had not been transferred into Zardari’s company’s name.

Now these documents and the March 2009 deal prove comprehensively that the 1997 reference against Zardari had considerable weight but remained inconclusive. After 15 years the purchase of the same land at such a low price has provided the evidence that the land belonged actually to Zardari then and had been legalised now. Otherwise there is no one in the world who would sell land worth Rs 2 billion at only a fraction of the market price, that is Rs 62 million.

Interviews with locals of the area also show that everyone in Sangjani knows that the land belongs to Zardari, who, according to some, had even visited the land during Benazir Bhuttoís second tenure.

When in 1997 the Ehtesab Bureau led by Mian Saifur Rehman had initiated a case against Zardari, the FIA had arrested some persons in the case. Media reports in 1997 had then alleged that Zardari had forcibly acquired this 2,500 Kanals of land forcibly, uprooting 300 families, to set up a polo ground and a riding pavilion in Sangjani, 25 minutes from main Islamabad.

Former Ehtesab Bureau chairman Saifur Rehman had told a news conference on June 10, 1997 (reported in newspapers the next day) that the then chairman of CDA, now late Shafi Sehwani, a PPP-appointee, was also involved in the land scam.

Some local residents including Sardar Ishaque, Raja Mehboob Elahi and Haji Bashir had also then appeared before reporters and had claimed that they had been forced to sell their land at a throw away price in 1994 and Zardari wanted to build a polo ground in Sangjani.

It was then said that a US resident Nasir Khan had been used as a front man by Zardari. According to a 1997 news report Nasir Khan was instrumental in making the deals with the owners, whose lands were reported to have been forcibly acquired by the revenue administration of Islamabad, not for official projects but for private ownership of Nasir Khan, who was said to be acting for Zardari.

In his complaint, one Ishaque narrated at that time the details of how he was summoned in August 1994 by the then Tehsildar of Islamabad, Tariq Haideri, and taken to the PMís House to convince him to sell his land measuring 392 Kanals 8 Marlas, at the rate of Rs 4,000 per Kanal, which even at that time was much below the prevailing market price. Ishaque was later forced to sign an agreement at the residence of Nasir Khan and was told that if he did not cooperate his land would be acquired through CDA at the rate of Rs 2,900 per Kanal. From 1997 till recently, nothing changed on the ground as Nasir Khan remained the legal owner of the land. NAB also could not do much because of some key missing links.

However, in an important development in 2007 Faisal Sakhi Butt, another friend of Zardari, filed a civil suit in an Islamabad civil court claiming that he had purchased the same land measuring 2,460 Kanals and 17 Marlas on 18-1-2007 from Nasir Khan for Rs 62 million.

He told the court that in May 2007, he paid Nasir Khan Rs 61 million, leaving a balance of Rs 1 million. Butt said that he wrote to Nasir Khan, who lives in Houston, USA, to execute the necessary Sale Deed in his favour before Sub Registrar Islamabad but did not receive any reply. He prayed before the court for a judgment and a decree against the defendant, Nasir Khan. It appears that the men were fighting a mock battle in a court to legalise the transfer of the massive land.

Nasir Khan in his reply from USA did not contest the charges and conceded almost everything that Butt demanded and explained that due to his business pre-occupation coupled with ill health he could not leave USA and come to Pakistan for execution of Sale Deed in favour of Butt. He also did not deny the prayer clause and allowed the court to proceed in favour of Butt after paying balance sale consideration of Rs 1 million to him through his counsel.

Accordingly the civil court in June 2008 decided in favour of Butt and referred the case to the Islamabad High Court where Butt had gone for the execution of his decree. On Nov 11, 2008, Nasir Khanís counsel told the IHC that he has no objection to the execution of the sale deed through an official of the court in favour of Butt or his nominee/assignee. Buttís counsel stated that he was going to file the assignment deed in the court, therefore, an adjournment for three weeks be granted. The court fixed December 16th as the next date for hearing of the case.

On December 16, 2008
Zardariís Park Lane Estates Pvt Limited figured for the first time when Buttís counsel told the IHC the decree as well as the rights ensuing from the decree had been assigned in favour of Park Lane Estates of Karachi by Butt for which a new execution petition would be filed on behalf of Park Lane Estates the same day.

It was done accordingly and quickly and the case was turned from the previous Faisal Sakhi Butt vs. Muhammad Nasir Khan to Park Lane Estates (Pvt) Limited vs Muhammad Nasir Khan (defendant) and Faisal Sakhi Butt (original decree holder). According to this petition, Butt sold his decree to Park Lane Estates. The Park Lane Estates told the IHC that it had paid Rs 46 million to Butt as per Deed of Assignment dated 27-11-2008.

Consequently on January 29, 2009 the then PCO Chief Justice of the IHC passed the following order: ìLearned counsel for respondent No. 1 (Nasir Khan) as well as respondent No. 2 (Faisal Butt), both have no objection for assignment of the decree in favour of Park Lane Estates (Pvt) Ltd.

ì2. Office is directed to prepare amended decree accordingly.

ì3. There is no objection on behalf of respondent No. 1 for execution of amended decree. Learned counsel for respondent No. 1 states that Muhammad Nasir Khan is living in USA and is not able to personally sign the sale deed.

ì4. Both the parties pray that an official of this court be appointed to appear before the Registrar and execute the sale deed on behalf of vendee/judgment debtor.

ì5. Mr Noor Muhammad (Reader of this Court) is directed to appear before the Registrar, to sign the sale deed and admit its execution/registration.

ì6. Petitioner is directed to place on record the sale deed, printed/typed on the stamp papers, valued according to the value of suit property, within two weeks. He shall also deposit Rs 10,000/- as fee of Official of Court.

ì7. Disposed of accordingly.

Sign Chief Justice.î

Accordingly a sale deed was made on March 3, 2009 between Nasir Khan, represented by IHC reader Noor Muhammad and Park Lane Estates and registered by Joint/Sub Registrar Islamabad after payment of just Rs 1,240,000 as CVT. Later the revenue department issued a FARD on June 29, 2009 reflecting the sale of land by Nasir Khan to Park Lane Estates for a mere Rs 62 million.

Everything went smoothly and hassle free. Nasir Khan and Faisal Butt cooperated in a slavish manner and transferred the land to Park Lane Estates, owned by the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari.

Nasir Khan is still in the US and is considered a close associate of the president. Faisal Butt is also closely associated with President Zardari, who had informally made Butt the monitor on CDA last year. ìI am making my own input in the CDA so that the development activity paces up,î he had told The News on January 23rd. In the same story, he was identified as close friend of the president. No one denied any point in the story then.

Butt is today the most important person for CDA affairs and dealings in the federal capital. Faisal is member of the Islamabad Development Steering Committee, which is led by Babar Awan. PPP Senator Nayyar Bukhari is another member.

Despite repeated efforts Butt was not available for comments. A senior staffer of The News visited what is believed to be his ìsecret officeî situated at House No 5, street 8, F-6/3 at least thrice on Monday but he was shy to face the media. Repeated messages were also dropped at his mobile that was attended every time by his PA, who introduced himself as Bukht.

The spokesman of the presidency Farhatullah Babar when approached by The News initially denied that President Zardari had any shares in any company by the name of Park Lane Estates (Pvt) Limited and said that these are speculative allegations. Babar, however, admitted that a case regarding Sangjani lands against Zardari was initiated in 1997 but it was closed down as there were no evidences available to prove the alleged corruption.

When Babar was informed that the SECP documents show Asif Ali Zardari as one of the directors of the company while his son Bilawal Ali Zardari was also a share holder of equal status, he said he was not in the knowledge of any such thing.

Regarding the allegations that Nasir Khan was front man of Zardari for the purchase of this land in mid-90s Babar again showed his ignorance. When asked whether he knew that a close friend of President Zardari, Faisal Sakhi Butt first purchased this land from Nasir Khan at a throw away price and then sold it at the same price to Park Lane Estates owned by President Zardari, Babar again showed his ignorance.

Another important player of this whole deal Muhammad Iqbal Memon, when contacted, confirmed to The News that he is Chief Executive of Park Lane Estates (Pvt) Ltd. When asked whether President Zardari and his son Bilawal are the directors/share holders of his company, Memon said that he did not remember exactly.

Asked whether it was true that Park Lane Estates had purchased 2,460 Kanals of land in Sangjani Islamabad for merely Rs 62 million, Memon initially said that he didnít want to talk on the issue. When pressed to answer the question and asked if President Zardari, who is also a director of his company, had used the influence of his office for getting this land at a throw away price, he said: “No, no such influence was used. It was a fair business deal.

Checks on corruption.

WHO would have thought thatthe mother of parliments, the British House of Commons would be shamed before the world exposure of rampant corruption of some of its leading figures including minsters over a period of time?

It was not any institutional check but reportage by a leading daily which brought the misdeeds to light.If the rot had not existed in the system for some time it could not have acquired the proportions it did.

Likewise, in our region corruption has acquired menancing proportion it is because it grew freely over the years. Consider just one instance .On Aug 16, 1924, the private scretary to the viceroy,G.F de Montmorency, forwarded to the home secretary James Crerar a complaint of "corruption connected with the legislative counsil" of Bengal which the viceroy had received from the governor with a request to inform him about the lagal position.

The machineryof government and the powers it wields have expanded. There has been amushroom growth of corruptionin public sector and the state has bacome a provider largesse.Corruption exists in the developed world also but it manances the deveoplin world acutely.The press lacks resources required for exposure; traditions are weak and temptations strong.

The world's best known anti-corruption NGO, Transparency International , has done works even if one questions the rating it provides. It points out that corruptionhas dire global consequences, trapping millions in poverty and misery and breeding social, economic and political unrest. It is botha cause of poverty and a barrier to overcoming it and is one of the most serious obstaclesto reducing poverty. It denies the poor the basic means of survival, forcing them to spend more of their income on bribes.

Human rights are denied where corruption is rife. Democracy and the ruleof law are undermined. National and international trade is disorted;sound governance and ethics in the private sectors are affected.Corruption compounds political exclusion:if votes can be bought, there is little incentive to change the system that sustains poverty.

How do we combat the manance? First by devising instituitional checks and next by ensuring greater transparency in government. To begin with the standard of ministerial responsibility must be raised.Ministers are trustees of public money and poverty and should be made accountable as trustees. Two more safeguards are eseential. One is a right to information law. The other is a partnership between a vigilant press and an assertive public opinion.

Corruption in Pakistan and Transparency International report 2009.

There is an international and non-governmental oraganization known as Transparency International which fights corruption and try to raise public awareness of it. In its annual report, Pakistan has always ranked as one of the most corrupt countries of the world . In its annual report of 2009 the statistics shows that rupees 500billion corruption has been committed in Pakistan over a period of one year. The Tranparency International reveals an increase in corruption in Pakistan, making the country to stand at 42nd position among the most corrupt countries in the world.

The report further says that anti corruption activities in Pakistan has taken a 180 degree turn after Gen. Musharraf issued the Natinal Reconciliation Order in October, 2007. Pakistan 2009 cooruption Perceptions Index Score is 2.4, and out of 180 countries, its ranking is as most corrupt country has slipped 5 ranks , from 47 in 2008 to 42 most corrupt countries in 2009. The report says that Pakistan needs immediate enforcement of good governance and transparent administration to counter the acute problems of billions of ruppes of corruption scam reported in Pakistan Steel Mills, TDAP,EOBI,PIA, Rental Power Plant, KESC, NHA , OGDC, PSO, PEPCO, CDA, NBP and many othe organizations. There have been numerous reports of fraudulent change inland records by revenue officers.

Also according to Miss Ayesha Siddiqa's book Military Inc. there has been evidences of massive corruption in Pakistan army which is considered as the most prestigious and most powerful instituituon of the country.This is really unfortunate that this type of an instituition is involved in corrupt practices.

Terrorism is the direct outcome of poverty, resulted only and only due to corruption, and mainly because of prevalent illegal dirct/indirect Armed Fores Rules in Pakistan since 1951 to 2007, fully endorsed by corrupt Judiciary.The gorvernment is ruling Pakistan without governance, and Pakistan has lost credibility all over the world, due to which the countyr is facing serious economic threats, poverty, inflation, food and electricity shortages and increase in unemployment which are direct results of the massive ongoing corruption. Pakistan also requires immediate actions through an operation on review and cancellation of appointments and promotion not made on merit as well as extension in service or reappointment after retirement and remove from the key public offices of those who are facing corruption charges.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister of Pakistan has formed a commitee to address this alarming condition of ongoing massive corruption in every sector . I personally believe that these types of committees can never remove corruption as they can only give us a guidance to follow and the problem in our country is that there are laws but unfortunately they are seldom enforced. The bureaucrats and politicians need each other for this practice and thus corrupt people are seldom brought to book.


Corruption ! a ver familiar word to every pakistani right from his/her childhood, but what exactly is? when it happens? why it happens and how it happens is what majority of us are totally blank about. Webster's define the word as "the act of impairing integrity, virtue or moral principle" but my opinons regarding this crucial and complicated matter are far deeper than mere explanation of three words. To me its "an act of manipulating things around you in such a manner that they might bring personal interests for a certain period of time but once seen from a broader perspective , at the end of the day the subject involved in initiating it ends up in a loss of his/her own."
Human being was deliberately designed with "dissatisfaction and greed" as an integral trait of his personality. These are the innate virtues that even Holy Quran confirms. Agreeing to the mentioned facts and considering the present senario of the prevailing situation in our country and placing yourself in shoes of a parent with a family of more than ten to feed , it would be quite natural that you might want to do ANYTHING to make both ends meet of which cooruption is just a minor section.
But these essence of living the life with charm, dignity and honor lies in overcoming our personal interests and earn the living the way the basic Ethics Demand for Allah Alimighty says Himself in Holy Quran "Indeed a man gets whatever he strives for"
Corruption although can be classifeid into a thousands of categories depends on how good people manipulate things. However the basic and most common type is "bribe" which has far reaching implications towards the destruction of complete system.Any system would be declared as a complete failure once the corruption starts appearing even on the grass root level. It really hurts when I see a thousand white elephants in every single department with a big mouth opened before the poor and needy and the most concerning and funnire part of the story is that one has to bribe to get into a position where he can ask for the same and the chain reaction goes on and on.
If we peep into the golden pages of history of our own country every single day out of these 62 years is like a page full of thousand cases of corruption right from demarcation to 5 martial laws, from peon to board of governers and even from sports field to getting your child admitted to a good school . For promotion, business, politics, and what not. Even for basic necessities like electricity and now even sugar, this is what we see in any corner we look at.
Crux of the matter is that this is a social stigma we are living with and this is the time to bring about a change, a revolution. So the need of the hour is to develop ourselves a sound sense of what corruption actually is and take all those measures so as to eradicate it right from the grass-root level. Merely including a chapter on corruption in cirriculum at schools wont be as effective as a parent inculcating the same sense in a child by making it a part of child's basic moral values list for it is the formost solution to the social stigma we are living. It is the time that we realize and do something in real rather than joining the social services communities on facbook and make our country Pakistan a better place to live in.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why Musharraf should be prosecuted

At this unique juncture of our chequered history when we have got the rare opportunity of holding accountable a dictator and a usurper - who for his personal gains repeatedly trampled the Constitution, ruined every state institution and had his hands stained with the blood of innocent people - certain elements are opposing the trial of General (R) Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution.

They have their own logic and argument. “We are being advised to forget and forgive Musharraf and think about the future. We are being warned that the moment of accountability of army dictators has not yet arrived and if we committed the ‘mistake’ of trying and punishing Musharraf for high treason, it would lead Pakistan to another martial law,” they argued.

Admitting that the list of Musharraf’s crimes is too long to be counted and too serious to be ignored, they suggest the best “punishment” for him would be to ignore him and forget him for all times to come.

Of late former Senator Farhatullah Babar, presently media adviser to President Asif Ali Zardari, also opposed physical execution of Musharraf and supported the philosophy of “punishment in perpetuity”. He said that Musharraf should be castigated, reprimanded and disgraced for what he had done in the past, which, according to him, is the example of ‘punishment in perpetuity.’

Babar explained that the punishment for Musharraf started when he doffed his military uniform. “He was further agonized when all the elected assemblies of Pakistan denounced him and sought his exit from the Presidency,” the spokesman said and added that Musharraf was then chased out of the Presidency. Lastly, he said, the July 31 judgment of the Supreme Court that declared the Nov 3, 2007 acts as illegal and unconstitutional, further disgraced Musharraf. He suggested that instead of dragging him in streets, Musharraf should be punished in perpetuity and made a symbol of regret, shame and horror.

However, those advocating such punishment for Musharraf and asking us to forget him once and for all are possibly not aware of the fact that the dictator is presently busy in merrymaking in Europe. Showing no remorse of what he has done to Pakistan, he instead is still dreaming of becoming Pakistan’s president once again. He continues to think very high of himself and aspires to be presented the Presidency yet again in a platter.

Farhatullah Babar, who is waiting for Musharraf’s humiliation and wants to see him rueing his past, is perhaps unaware of the fact that the ousted dictator left London for cruising in Europe after the historic Supreme Court verdict. If we look at Musharraf’s recent media statements, he didn’t seem repenting his past mistakes at all, or that he is worried about his future in the wake of the apex court decision. Then what’s the meaning of “punishment in perpetuity” and pushing him into oblivion if the man being “punished” is enjoying himself fully without even a shred of remorse or fear.

If there is no need for physically punishing people like Musharraf despite their involvement in the most serious crime in our statutes books, then we should re-consider even having courts, police and jails. If a dictator, who abrogated the constitution, got killed Nawab Akbar Bugti and many others, was responsible for the Lal Masjid gory massacre and sold Pakistanis to the United States for dollars is not awarded any punishment, then what is the justification to try and prosecute an ordinary killer, a thief, a robber, and a kidnapper. They should also be let go scot free and given the punishment in perpetuity. If a traffic law violator is punished, then why the violator of the Constitution should be pardoned. Won’t it open the door to lawlessness and anarchy in the country?

There is a need to ponder that if physical punishment is not important for the one who has committed the most serious crime of high treason then why the authors of the 1973 Constitution during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s tenure made Article 6 part of the Constitution and proposed high treason charges against those who abrogate this sacred document. If ‘punishment in perpetuity’ is such a great philosophy then why did Zulfikar Ali Bhutto also got enacted through Parliament the High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973, which says that the violators of Article 6 would be awarded death penalty or life term. The law also explains as to who would register the case involving high treason charges, which court would hear the case and which government agency would investigate the matter.

It’s so strange that the elected prime ministers here are controversially sent to gallows, sentenced to imprisonment and got involved in fake plane hijacking case but when it comes to them nobody talks of “punishment in perpetuity”. Where were the preachers of the “punishment in perpetuity” and those advocating the forgive and forget policy for Musharraf, when people’s representatives were kept in jails for years on corruption charges, and some of them were pushed against the wall to the limit that they had to flee the country? Violation of the Constitution of the country is the biggest crime, but strangely amnesty for such a big criminal is being sought on one pretext or the other.

There is also an argument subtly given to save Musharraf from being fixed by saying that why should Musharraf be hanged when no punishment was given to the other past dictators -
General Ayub, General Yahya and General Zia. It really sounds strange. If no punishment was awarded to the past dictators, the usurper in hand should also be left unpunished. If this policy is adopted, we would never be able to move forward, instead we would continue our backward journey till the time we really reach the Stone Age based on the principle of might is right.

Why shouldn’t we try Musharraf and punish him physically and give symbolic punishment and condemnation to the late dictators through parliamentary resolution? A serious thought could be given to the idea of observing a day at national level every year to condemn dictatorship. On this day, the nation should express its hatred towards dictatorship in a style that military interventions should be seen as a curse and an act of abhorrence.

At a time when the Supreme Court of Pakistan has declared the act of a dictator unconstitutional and the majority in Pakistan desires to make an example out of Musharraf, those suggesting to ignore and forget him or arguing in favour of “punishment in perpetuity” are requested to let the nation move forward, and not push it back to the past. Had the dictators been punished in the past, we would not have seen the fateful day of October 12, 1999 when Musharraf fearlessly trampled the constitution of Pakistan. But now when we have got a chance to punish a living dictator and make him an example for the future dictators, we are being warned that it would pave the way for the future Musharrafs.

Such ‘pragmatic’ voices are requested to give us a break. Rest assured nothing adverse is going to happen if we stick to the rule of law. What we are being advised by the pro-dictator pragmatists is like pushing the Pakistani nation to the pre-Muhammad (PBUH) age of ignorance when the powerful and mighty were not punished and only common people were taken to task.

We are the followers of that great and last Prophet of Allah who, referring to the age of ignorance, had said, “By God, if Muhammad’s daughter Fatima had committed a theft, her hands would have been slashed.” But, apathetically, we have forgotten that golden principle of rule of law that was given to us 1,400 years ago while the West has achieved a welfare society based on equality and justice for its citizens by acting on these very principles. Isn’t it true that former British premier Tony Blair had to go to the police station himself to get his son bailed out in a liquor drinking case. The wife of the same British prime minister was made to pay fine for travelling in an underground rail without ticket. Ironically such examples of rule of law are today the hallmark of the western societies alone.

The movement launched on March 9, 2007,
for the independence of judiciary and rule of law has given this nation and the country a new direction. By treading this new path, we could achieve a new milestone in our history. We have already witnessed a few unprecedented events on March 16, 2009 and July 31, 2009, in our country which had no match in the history of Pakistan. We were also threatened and warned of gloomy scenarios by the “pragmatists” during the movement for the independence of the judiciary. At times we were also laughed at and labelled as “crazy” people who ask for the moon without being aware of the ground realities. But with the grace of Allah Almighty, this nation has achieved the “impossible” by the force of its “craziness”, thus securing its future and rekindling hopes for prosperity and the rule of justice. If Chilean dictator Augusto Jose Ramon Pinochet Ugarte could be extradited from Britain to present him before his country’s court, then why can’t Musharraf be?

Corruption retarding investment in Pakistan: WB

The World Bank finds corruption a serious and growing obstacle to the investment climate in Pakistan besides expressing dissatisfaction over the issue of governance in the country.

In its 128-page draft report on Pakistan’s Investment Climate , the WB said that corruption is largely associated with business-government interface and reveals that the menace is more widespread here as compared to other countries though the bribe rates here are lower. Referring to a survey conducted for the formulation of the draft report, the Bank says that results show that perceptions about corruption in Pakistan are based on actual experiences with paying bribes by the investing firms. It reveals that the firms making investment in Pakistan have to pay bribes even to get water, telephone and electricity connections.

In view of WB clarification to The News report on power sector and its observation that this correspondent has drawn inferences from the Bank’s draft report, select portions of the report pertaining to governance and corruption are being reproduced to end any confusion being deliberately created about the findings of WB in its draft report.

On the issue of government, the report in its page 64 and para 135, said, “Consistent interpretation and application of rules and regulations is an important reflection of good governance. Discretion or lack of predictability and consistency in the interpretation of rules and regulations (by government officials) is indeed a severe problem in Pakistan. Only 46 per cent of firms in Pakistan believe that the officials interpret rules consistently, compared with 60 per cent in comparator countries.”

On the issue of corruption, the report’s para 136 states, “Corruption, a serious and growing obstacle to the investment climate, is largely associated with business-government interface. Corruption is considered a severe constraint by more than half of all the firms (57 per cent) in Pakistan, significantly higher than the 40 per cent figure from 2002 and much higher than those of the comparator countries, with the exception of Brazil and Bangladesh. It is common for firms in Pakistan to pay informal payments to government officials to get things done. In 2006, three out of every four firms strongly agreed or tended to agree with the preceding statement.”

Para 137 of the report says, “Results show that perception about corruption in Pakistan are based on actual experiences with paying bribes. In other words, the probability that a firm reported corruption as a serious obstacle rises by 29-percentage point (against 57 per cent in the full sample) if the firm experienced at least one incident of bribe. As with perceptions of corruption, bribe incidence in Pakistan has increased 20 per cent over time-from 40 per cent in 2002 to 48 per cent in 2007.”

Para 138 of the report says, “The amount of bribe paid in Pakistan is difficult to estimate but available evidence suggests it is not too high by international standards, although it varies by region. Firms were asked the amount of bribe that firms in their industries pay to government officials to get things done. The bribe rate (as a percentage of annual sales) in Pakistan equals 0.7 on average, compared with 1 per cent in comparative countries. Firms in Islamabad (including Rawalpindi) reported the highest bribe rate of 2.7 per cent, followed by firms in Karachi (1.4 per cent), and Lahore where the figure was less than 0.1 per cent. The findings suggest that relative to other countries, bribery in Pakistan is more widespread (affects a larger proportion of firm), but the bribe rate is lower although not by a significant amount.”

Para 140 of the reports says, “Compared to other countries, Pakistan has a high overall incidence of bribe due to tax and labour inspections-despite having a smaller percentage of firms that are inspected. Compared to other countries, the ‘conditional incidence’ of a bribe is the highest in Pakistan. This means that for each inspection, the likelihood that a firm in Pakistan will be requested or was requested to pay the bribe higher than it is in any of the comparator countries. In contrast, firms in Egypt have almost twice as many inspections but much less incidence of bribes. These findings are consistent with the conclusions that curtailing corruption in Pakistan requires not only a reduction in the interaction between government functionaries and the private firms, but also greater check and balances on government officials as well.”

The report says while the government has taken steps to tackle corruption but much remains to be accomplished. On page 49 and in para 99, the reports said, “The incidence of informal payments or gifts to obtain telephone connections has almost doubled since 2002; it represented one of the few negative developments in the (telecom) sector. The percentage of firms that face requests for bribes or speed money to obtain new telephone connections has increased from 19 in 2002 to 34 in 2006, highlighting a marked increase in corruption. Pakistan is second only to Bangladesh (71 per cent) in terms of corruption in this sector.”

On page 44 and in para 88, the report also talked of corruption in another factor restricting access to water supply to firms. “62 per cent of all the firms surveyed (that have applied for new connections) were reportedly asked to make informal payments or gifts in order to obtain water connections...firms in Pakistan face the severest corruption on this front relative to its international comparators.

Every firm in the chemical sector that had applied for a (water) connection was asked for such a payments.” On the issue of power connection the report on page 37 para 69 says, “A stunning 84 per cent of firms that applied for connections had to make informal payments in order to obtain electricity services-a startling increase from the 25 per cent firms that reported making such payments in 2002.”

Reconciliation and truth

In varying degrees, corruption has always been condoned as part of the system in Pakistan—oil necessary for the running of the political machine. So why the furore about it now? Has corruption crossed previous records, or is it because the polity has become sick and tired of the excesses of our rulers and bureaucrats, both khaki- and white-collared? Or is it the media and the courts which, with their newfound freedom and independence, do not hesitate to expose the rich and the powerful anymore?

Minister of State for Law and Justice Afzal Sindhu did well to release at a press conference the list of the 800-plus NRO beneficiaries. It was ostensibly a courageous thing to do for the government to release a corruption-laundering list which was politically damaging for the ruling coalition. According to some analysts, it was Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s way of getting even with his boss.

If that was so, Mr Gilani was in for an unpleasant surprise. Just a day previously the prime minister had proudly proclaimed that if he and his wife had benefited from the NRO and that if their name appeared in the NRO list, he would resign. But one newspaper carried, along with the NRO list, another prominently displayed item claiming that the prime minister’s wife had settled her default case with the National Accountability bureau (NAB). She was asked to pay only Rs45.5 million, against the total liabilities of Rs570 million. What a steal!

While Mr Zardari, basking in his presidential immunity, has preferred to remain silent on the issue, most of the bigwigs named in the list have disputed its veracity. MQM supremo Altaf Hussain, who had the highest number of cases withdrawn against him, including 31 on murder charges, has described them as politically motivated cases initiated in his absence from the country. The MQM also claims that the against its leadership are only criminal, and not corruption, cases, and that there is a big difference between corruption and criminal cases. As if someone’s literally getting away with murder, as alleged, is less of a serious crime than corruption.

If, as is being claimed, everybody and his auntie in the ruling coalition was a victim of some political vendetta launched by the rulers of the day, and Musharraf, as a benign and humane ruler, had whitewashed crimes that were never committed, then there would be no issue. Unfortunately, the hapless people of Pakistan, especially in these hard economic times, think otherwise. Their politicians, including most of those in the opposition, live way beyond their means.

It is no wonder, then, that according to Transparency International, during the past year Pakistan has slipped in the corruption index from the 47th to the 42nd position.

According to a recent audit of the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) conducted by the Asian Development Bank, most of them simply do not make economic sense. Some of the owners of these projects have installed them simply to pocket the hefty compensation for not running them. One of the politically influential owners of such a project pockets millions of dollars a month for keeping it shut, on the pretext that the government has failed to supply gas to run the plant. This is buccaneering par excellence.

The owner of Haris Steel Mills, who decamped with just Rs9 billion of public money from the Punjab of Bank, in cahoots with the absconding head of the institution, has made the sensational disclosure in the Supreme Court about how he bribed his way out of the country. The people he bribed reads like a “who’s who list,” including federal minister Babar Awan. The same bank lent more than a billion rupees to one of its directors to buy out the mills owned by the family of the chief minister of the province at the time.

The present state of affairs does not bode well for the democratic system that was ushered in less than two years ago. Those who have never believed in democracy and have always sought an authoritarian dispensation are happy. It is another matter that it is precisely due to democracy that serious faults in the system can now be openly aired.

During the overt or covert rule of the generals, which has been the norm in Pakistan for more than half the country’s life, instances of misuse of power and corruption hardly found space in the timid and controlled media. Rarely did the intimidated higher courts take to task such usurpers while they were in power. Musharraf is distinguished by his failure of his efforts to oust the head of the Supreme Court and ultimately had to leave.

It was during his rule that celebrated author and researcher Ayesha Siddiqua tried to launch her book Military Inc., which exposed the corrupt practices of military rule, including cantonment lands, grandiose defence housing schemes and kickbacks on defence deals, but was forcibly prevented from launching her book. It is obvious that military rule is no panacea for corruption, nor does it help to provide a clean government and good governance, just as have the civilian leader set no tradition of transparency.

Notwithstanding the need to clean the Augean stables, it is only civilians who will have to do the job themselves. Unfortunately, in the past they have completely failed in setting up a credible self-accountability mechanism. Mian Nawaz Sharif tried his hand at it by setting up the Ehtasab Bureau under the maverick Saifur Rehman, himself a bank defaulter. Despite its thoroughness, it became a vehicle for political vendetta mainly against the PPP opposition. Most of the cases instituted against Benazir Bhutto and Zardari were instituted during this period.

The successor of the Ehtsab Bureau, the co-called National Accountability Bureau (NAB) instituted by the military government, did no better. In fact, it was shamelessly used to buy loyalties through intimidation and plea bargains for the formation of the “King’s Party.” It was successful in these endeavours, but in the process whatever was left of morality and ethics in politics went down the drain.

With the credibility of the present government at its lowest ebb, thanks largely to perceptions about its own record, it is an onerous task to set up a body, which can do across-the-board accountability and ensure clean government. The courts can do this job to a limited extent, as at the end of the day politicians themselves will have to get their act together. If Messrs Zardari and Gilani are really sincere about running the system and provide a reasonably clean government, they will have to ensure taking the opposition on board.

Fortunately, PML-N supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif is in no mood to rock the boat, provided Mr Zardari also shows sincerity about the strengthening of the system. The government did well to present the Balochistan package in the parliament. Similarly, the virtual consensus on the NFC Award is also a welcome step. But in order to move forward Mr Zardari must seriously return its sovereignty to the parliament by expediting the repeal of the 17th Amendment.

We have heard for too long about the impending reshuffle in the cabinet, postponed many times now on one pretext or the other. Patently corrupt ministers should go and, if not willing to resign, those named in the NRO should be shown the door.

Mr Zardari’s own issue is a thorny one. He enjoys presidential immunity, but since an example should be set from the very top, he should present himself for accountability before the Supreme Court by voluntarily waiving his presidential immunity. After all, he faced these cases for eight years in a hostile political environment.

Whenever I met the late Benazir Bhutto in exile, she always talked about the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission. It is time such a body, comprising credible politicians from both sides of the aisle and eminent jurists, is constituted by her successors. Its mandate should not only be limited to the cleaning up of the Augean stables but to set up standards of morality and fair play in politics.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Politicians of Pakistan;Corruption Redefined

Why corruption is penetrating in our society?

Following are the reasons of increasing corruption day by day in our lives

1. Incongruity between power and responsibility:

This results in perpetual wastage and loss of huge resources. For example, a Secretary to the government may authorise the execution of a project worth millions of Rupees but he is not responsible whether the investment yields the stipulated benefits. The performance of an individual must be continuously gauged by introducing a system of "performance/work audit". The system is different from the prevailing system of "Annual Confidential Reports" (ACRs) or Public Accounts Committees. The work audit should be done by external agencies or the public representatives at various levels.

2. Lack or absence of job security:

The employer must cultivate confidence in the employee. A system should be evolved to ensure that if a staff member is performing duties as per expectations, he should not have to worry about job security. This system is not easy to install, particularly in the Asian culture. In Islam, there is not easy to install, particularly in the Asian culture. In Islam, there is a well-defined code of ethics for the employee as well as employer. This code is based OJH recognition and respect for mutual rights and it does not allow whims and emotions to interference in the relationship. The famous story of a Khalifa arriving in a. foreign city towing the camel with servant riding, as it happened to be the servant's turn to ride, gives a marvellous illustration of the relationship.

3. Unbalanced economy and variation in the quality of life:

There are three types of classes in a normal society. A society is stable and peace in ensured where the middle class is in majority. The efforts of welfare and a popular democratic state should be to reduce the size of upper and lower classes and increase the size of middle class. This calls for the economic policies for better wealth distribution.

4. Opportunities for making extra money through corruption:

Low literacy rate of the general public and lax attitude of the political leadership play a major role in giving the means and manoeuvrability to the corrupt. Government should announce and quickly implement exemplary punishment to that context of educating the public and public servants about mutual relationship and duties; it is suggested to administer the oath on every public at the time of recruitment and posting. The people may object about anybody's appointment on the basis of proof and/or information. A committee should oversee the proceeding? Any objection about any person should be promptly investigated and the corrupt be punished immediately.

5. There are no effective checks to control corruption:

The present institutional framework for the control of corruption in Pakistan comprises of many organisations like:

I) Anti-Corruption Organisations,

II) Prime Minister's and Chief Minister's Inspection Teams.

III) Federal Investigating Agency,

IV) Ombudsman, etc.

Above mentioned organisations generally respond to complaints about corruption and take appropriate measures to check and punish the corrupt. Due to top heavy organisation, antiquated procedures and the passive attitude towards corruption, these organisations are not able to check the officials of higher ranks and have, therefore, lost their effectiveness.

6. When everybody is corrupt, why should we be honest?

A myth about the growing menace of corruption is that: "We are an integral part of this (corrupt) society. How can we isolate and protect ourselves from the good or bad effects of society." This argument works as a tranquilliser for the nation and people start to expect everybody else to change before themselves. A method for resolving this syndrome includes creation of general public awareness about -the effects of corruption on society and common man, using media campaign and adoption of policy of general condemnation of the menace and severe punishments for the corrupt.

7. There is no incentive for not being corrupt:

In an otherwise corrupt environment, an honest person is reckoned as odd and undesirable. Taken by individuals to stay honest are generally not encouraged and the corrupt create numerous socio-economic, administrative and operational problems for them. There are many politicians who support officials with poor reputation. Politicians generally tend to get the posting of such "favourites" for getting the jobs done according to their choice instead of merit of justice,

8. Superiors and subordinates shall not tolerate, if one stops accepting bribes:

The above fear is generally true and an honest individual ends up in the position where he is either important or is not expected to do anything important. They are kept away from the mainstream of activity. A system of work audit coupled with just, vigilant and active system of accountability as well as austerity induced from the top shall certainly discourage the temptations of becoming corrupt.

9. Tendencies and pressures to accumulate wealth:

The most important task now is to control the monster that has come out of cage. The formulation of the public opinion and modification of the thought process of present and future leadership, planners and well-wishing citizens is one of the primary steps in one of the primary steps in the positive direction. This will not only strengthen Pakistan but also certainly help to improve the lot of the poor. A major reason for the persistent poverty in our country is inability of the leadership to control corruption.

Corruption an over-view

Corruption has been around for so long and has grown no wild and widespread that society has started to accept it as normal and those involved in it do not feel any sense of guilt.

According to a belief: "Corruption is like an inverted tree with roots, in the upper formations of society," Botanically, one strengthens the roots and trunks of tree by merely pruning the weak branches.

The effect of corruption and mismanagement is, perpetually increasing poverty, disparities amongst various regions and society, murder of justice and disrespect for the law. The poor law and order situation in the country is the outcome of persistent corruption.

The menace of corruption in Pakistan has extended into disciplines and segments of society which in the past, we considered to be sacred. Corruption has become so common that it has started to receive legitimacy, respect and recognition from those who were supposed to check and control it

There is a general tendency on the part of the politicians as well as the bureaucracy to overlook merit. This encourages corruption in society. Disrespect for merit, once started, is self propagating and it takes a greater degree of effort to restore u.

Unspecified and unlimited discretionary powers coupled with tendency of the bureaucracy to be indecisive, lethargic and inefficient and corrupt add to the frustration and distrust of people in the system. While the public would generally prefer honesty and accuracy, inefficiency in public business and endless delays of procedures without effective accountability, tend to make the public accept speedy disposal at the cost of honesty.

The corruption in Pakistan exists in numerous forms, is invisible as the stealing of public funds,
nepotism, favouritism, redtapeism, lethargy, exploitation of the poor, injustice, living beyond means, indifferent attitude towards the genuine towards the genuine towards the genuine problems of the masses and poor, misuse of power, etc. Every organisation and sub-system has its own modality (Tariqa-i-Wardat) of corruption. These modalities have almost becomes standard and are well known to even kids. This makes the attack on corruption possible though difficult. The power and unity of "corruption culture" can only be broken if leadership decides to do it with missionary spirit.

According to an estimate, about 10 to 25 per cent of the development programme budget of Pakistan is wasted, misused or misappropriated. One Finance Minister estimated that the size of corruption in Pakistan is Rs. 5 billion. Soon he corrected himself and declared that Rs. 20 billion was a more accurate figure. This amounts to about 3 per cent of the

GDP. A nation which howsoever US S36.6 billion (about Rs. 800 billion) as foreign debt and pays about 2.8 per cent of the GDP for debt-servicing can ill-afford such a huge leakage due to poor administration and resource management.

Corruption cannot be combated by a half-hearted approach. Understanding of the issues, committed leadership with an action plan and aggressive approach, are the essential prerequisites for eradication of ever-growing menace of corruption. Following are the excuses of offered by the corrupt when asked about their corruption. The arguments, when critically analysed, show that these are only partially true. Wages and salaries not compatible with the cost of living:
It is a primary duty of the employer to meet the cost of respectable living of the employees. It is, therefore, imperative to determine the cost of living by making appropriate family budgets. Indexation of salaries with inflation should be adjusted so that an employee does not indulge in corruption.

According to an estimate, the cost to economy of a "functional" Grade 21/22 officer in the government is between Rs. 50,000 to Rs 100,000 per- month against the "take home" salary of Rs. 9,000. Whereas, Grade 5 to 16 officials generally live within the salary ranges between Rs. 1,200 to 5,000 with or without housing and their real cost to economy is not a big multiplier of their actual ages. The undue privileges are not classified as corruption by the senior-ranking officials and are, therefore, not a part of the earlier
Rs 20 billion corruption estimate. Limits have, therefore, to be determined expenditures and leakages can be controlled.

Steps to Eradicate Corruption

All the corrupt people should be thrown behind Bars

1. A lot of things still need to be doe, more than forming bodies like the FACC. To begin with, key political personalities of the Federal Government need to straighten up their own acts. As a token of their firm resolution to check corruption, they should solemnly pledge that offer of millions of rupees will never tempt them;

2. An independent anti-corruption commission should be established, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan with full contempt of court powers and a large investigating staff directly under him;

3. The process of enforcing accountability must be decentralised and spread through the institutional spectrum. Without the right person in job, desired objectives cannot be achieved. So, if honesty be the objective in making senior bureaucratic appointments, the primary criterion should be personal integrity.

4. Corruption stems from the exercise of power and is a continuing phenomenon. Hence, an incessant, effective and institutionalised accountability process must always shadow those who wield power. And if the corruption crusade finds any chance of success, the government must establish its credentials as the promoter of honesty;

5. Process of accountability should be initiated from the top. Corrupt officials should not only be dismissed but also be imprisoned and deprived of their properties by confiscation. Corrupt politicians should not only be debarred from contesting elections but also be imprisoned and their properties be confiscated;

6. The emphasis of the corruption crusade must remain on cleansing the bureaucracy to establish it as a bulwark against political corruption;

7. The government must progress beyond arrests and allegations. The trials must begin without any delay and charges must be proved in courts of law. Swindlers, tax dodgers and loan defaulters must be hounded and sent to jail as quickly as possible;

8. The outcome of the battle against corruption lies with a basic transformation of bureaucratic culture and sweeping changes in rules and procedures;

9. The present political system based and entrenched on feudalism and feudal will have to be completely demolished. Indubitably, sovereignty and freedom of people have been usurped by this class in the name of sham and farce democracy where people have nominal role. Pithily, the real solution is more democracy, decentralisation of power, more autonomy and maximum participation of the masses through honest political institutions.

A common man is crying over basic necessities of life and these leaders are Lavishly spending government’s money on Drinks

The corrupt bureaucracy and democracy of Pakistan

Corruption and bribery have been the bane of every society in various degrees throughout the ages. All prophets, saints, political and social scientists have crusaded against the vicious and malicious consequences of corruption.

In our country corruption is just like the oil that makes the wheels of the government run, for the structure of our policy is such that people on all rungs of government have satisfied their conscience one way or the other that graft and bribery are the only way they can make a decent living.

With regard to corruption and violence Rousseau once said: "It was only when the serpent entered society in the form of private property that the life of man changed from prosperity to adversity."

Corruption is the mother of all evils. It breeds and promotes all others conceivable vices in society. It is responsible for lawlessness, disorder, injustice, turmoil, frustration and anarchy. It not only ruins the institutions and the system but also brings about deterioration and decadence in the moral, spirit, character and panache of people. The standard of living of people and triumph or discomfiture of a government greatly lies with the dimension and scope of corruption in any country.

Most of our governments have been dismissed on corruption charges but no one has yet been punished for being corrupt. Corruption has become a way life and acquired a new meaning and respectability in Pakistan. Today, corruption originating from the top has permeated all strata and classes right to vendors and milkmen.

Transparency International has listed Pakistan as the third most corrupt country in the world after Indonesia and China. Transparency International has been formed by many persons who had once served in the World Bank and other international organisations.

The cancer of corruption has eaten into the vitals of all institutions of Pakistan. So long as we are aware of the inimical effects of corruption, we must not let it go on. We must combat it with full rigour and vigour. It is primarily a product of bureaucratic culture
The administrative personnel do not perceive catalysts in the task of national reconstruction and, for they see themselves as dispersers in favour and treat the masses as recipients of patronage.

In Pakistan, corruption has become a way of life, the poor, feeding the rich - unshakeable and immutable. Children of corrupt officials with salaries often thousand rupees go to schools where free alone costs more than the salary of their parents. On the other hand, children of honest and righteous officials go to substandard schools, resorting to pillion-riding or hitch-hiking.

Every government since the regime of Ayub Khan has patronised and promoted corruption. At present, corruption is an art practised and patronised by all the haughty and mighty in Pakistan. It is being pursued most dishonourably without any fear and accountability by the powerful and influential people.

We have miserably failed almost in every domain including agriculture, education, health, population control, law and order and even defence. On the other hand, we have made outstanding headway in corruption.

If we scan Pakistan's history, we will learn that corruption was little known before the regime of Ayub Khan. Politicians like Liaquat Ali Khan, Nazim-ud-Din, Fazal Haque, Tamiz-ud-Din, passed away penniless. Even Sikandar Mirza worked for a living during his exile days in England. Today, unfortunately, the pace of corruption is promoted by the very leaders whose first and foremost duty is to combat and eradicate it. Instead, the whole structure and system of the government is being erected on incompetence, approach, nepotism, corruption and bribery which will, it not checked in an opposite way, utterly wreck every institution and department.

Three Indian Federal Ministers resigned from Prime Minister Narasimha "Rao's Cabinet following the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charging them with corruption. They were accused of receiving, between 1983 and 1991, more than 21 million dollars from a Delhi-based business magnate, Suredra Jain, to secure contracts or in exchange for favours. The Indian PM had given the CBI the green signal to charge sheet the three sitting ministers and to file cases against them in the Supreme Court. Can our FIA take similar action against our minister?

The bureaucrats and politicians across the political divide have combined into a most sinister venture "of plunder. They do subvert any genuine attempt at accountability. The task of extinguishing the burner of corruption is made more difficult by institutional fairly and legal loopholes.

The long and strong hands of corruption seem to spare no sector, either it is small or big. The diabolical extent of corruption particularly in the police service has broken all records where police stations are sold to the higher bidders among police officer, who are then free to make as much money as they can.

Efforts of the FACC have ended in fiasco to punish the corrupt since the FACC has found out many cases of massive fraud a heavy misappropriation. Unfortunately, the corrupt are highly place and well-connected in a changing political scenario in which they have strong political connections. That is why successive anticorruption committees over the decades came with a bang and vanished with a whimper.

The evasion of income tax by the landlords, mill-owners, business magnates and lawyers, etc., is pernicious to the economy of Pakistan and eventually hurt the whole society.

The corruption to be seen among our ruling politicians does have some specific dimensions. It has very distinct feudal undertones. The task of making headway in the social sector is generally treated with contempt. A sense of abomination is reflected in most significant areas like education, health and population planning. Karachi's story has become very tortuous and complex but a large part of the problem is the inadequacy of the feudal mind to comprehend the urban challenge and sympathise with the travails of the citizens.

A corrupt society cannot survive indefinitely, for it is against the law of nature. When corruption becomes a way of life, nothing goes right. Even dispensation of justice ceases to exist.

Corruption either of past or present is equally punishable under all laws. During early seventies, there was a proposal of enactment of Islamic laws of amputation of hand for theft. The late Governor of NWFP Arbab Sikandar Khan Kalil humorously but scholarly suggested that hands of all those people who had constructed big bungalows in posh towns with unfair money should be cut first to meet the demands of justice.

Due to vague concept of accountability a very small number of people work with honesty and assiduity while the majority normally prefers to tow the easier path. Although some people of our society are not jealous of other and do not like to compete for worldly needs since they think this may disturb their clam and cost life yet the evil of amassing more and more wealth at the cost of others had now entered our society, or instance, a few years ago, people looking for bridegroom for their daughters used to go for an honest person. Now their primary consideration is to see that their prospective son-in-law must have maximum money.

Our generation was advised by the elders not even to look at ill-gotten money. The elders were so particular about honest living that they would not accept an invitation to a meal from a person who lived beyond his means. Society used to abominate persons receiving bribes or indulging in other corrupt practices. People used to avoid having association with persons known to be corrupt. Curiously enough, today we are least concerned about our responsibility to our countrymen. Our first and foremost concern is only to fill bags of money by hook or by crook. Do we bear any mark of compunction on our faces and avoid facing the honest people keeping in view the apprehension of being wiggled?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Towards a corruption free Pakistan

The world, including Pakistan, observes the International Anti-Corruption Day. Corruption is no longer a national matter but a transitional phenomenon that affects all societies and economies, making international co-operation essential to prevent and combat it.

The fight against corruption has assumed a global dimension. Realising the grave socio economic threats posed by corruption, nations of the world have committed themselves to the eradication of corruption through the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

Pakistan too faces the menace of corruption in all spheres of human activities. It is clearly the nation's most formidable challenge and a threat to our future. The campaign against corruption is one in which we all have a direct and important stake. Corruption retards the pace of development and impedes developmental activities. Corrupt practices create hindrance in government's efforts aimed at providing basic social services and alleviating poverty.

In an environment where there is lack of integrity, investment is discouraged and the objective of accelerating economic development, increasing prosperity and eliminating poverty receives a severe setback. Corruption in government spending leads to serious reduction in impact of development programmes and results in perpetual increase in cost of maintenance of public assets.

Corruption has emerged as a potential threat to the stability of societies and is causing breaches in world social order. It threatens our long established good values which have been evolved over centuries of civilised struggle.

The menace of corruption is embedded in multitude of vices and challenges. Its roots are linked to injustice, mistrust, extremism and terrorist activities. It would be needless to add that the ultimate victim of corruption and poverty is human dignity itself.

While it is a universally accepted fact, that among many other causes, corruption emanates primarily from poor governance. Governance has to be good in its manifestation if corruption is to be defeated. The essential components of good governance are supremacy of Rule of Law, Accountability, Transparency and Predictability. In their absence the edifice of state institutions collapses and so does public confidence, giving rise to overall hopelessness and despair.

Corruption is too complex a phenomenon to be tackled with the enforcement based approach alone. To create mass awareness against corruption, the government has specially focused on the youth which are the engine of positive change and our future flag bearers. The media, too, has played an extremely pivotal role in supporting the fight against corruption by exposing the corrupt and spreading public awareness against this evil.

The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the premier international anti-corruption initiative, is the result of a long negotiation process, in which Pakistan has participated actively.

Over 100 countries, including Pakistan, have so far ratified it, which has enabled Pakistan to effectively benefit from the Convention's mechanisms of international co-operation to combat corruption and to effect recovery of assets stashed by the corrupt in foreign countries.

In 2007-08 more than two dozen cases involving requests for legal assistance, extradition, and evidence/information were processed with counterpart international agencies like Home Office, UK, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Australian Federal Police and Serious Fraud Office, UK etc.

Today Pakistan is well represented in the major global as well as regional anti-corruption initiatives like International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA), Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), ADB-OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and Pacific and the OIC Anti Corruption and Enhancing Integrity Forum (ACEIF).

As per the Transparency International Report 2008, Pakistan is ranked 134th out of 180 nations in the anti-corruption rating, which implies that it is the 46th most corrupt country in the world. We may recall those difficult times in the early nineties when Pakistan was declared the second most corrupt nation after Nigeria. In the last few years, Pakistan's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) score has also gradually improved from 2.1 in 2004 to 2.5 in 2008.

The silver lining is that despite the political, economic and security related upheavals of 2007/2008, Pakistan's anti-corruption efforts are bearing fruit, though we still have a long way to progress to attain at least the halfway mark in the world ranking.

The process of Accountability is essential to sustain good governance and forestall a free for all chaotic state of corruption in our society through integrated efforts of all stakeholders, including the anticorruption agencies, civil society, media etc. Our society must be transformed from the current mindset of accepting corruption as a way of life to one of total rejection and zero tolerance.

If Pakistan is to achieve sustained socio-economic development with healthy foreign investment, corruption must be eliminated at all costs. A strong political will, rule of law, backed by an honest and incorruptible judiciary, will surely help achieve the dream of a strong, progressive and prosperous Pakistan.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

List of NRO benefaciaries

Government of Pakistan released the list of the beneficiaries of the National Reconciliation Ordinance on the directives of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani.

State Minister for Law Afzal Sindhu said that a total of 8041 people including 34 politicians, bureaucrats and three ambassadors took benefit from the ordinance.

On top of the list is the name of President Asif Ali Zardari while his several close associates, both political and bureaucratic, including Rehman Malik, Salman Farooqi and his brother Usman Farooqi and Hussain Haqqani are also included, he said.

The list, which also reflects a brief introduction of the cases dropped against each name under the NRO, also includes the name of serving and former ministers, federal and provincial secretaries, ex-chief secretaries, existing or former members of the national and provincial assemblies and others.

NRO and the Constitution of Pakistan

AN ORDINANCE to promote national reconciliation

WHEREAS it is expedient to promote national reconciliation, foster mutual trust and confidence amongst holders of public office and remove the vestiges of political vendetta and victimization, to make the election process more transparent and to amend certain laws for that purpose and for matters connected therewith and ancillary thereto;-
AND WHEREAS the National Assembly is not in session and the President is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action;
NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 89 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the President is pleased to make and promulgate the following Ordinance :-

1. Short title and commencement.

(1) This Ordinance may be called the National Reconciliation Ordinance, 2007.

(2) It shall come into force at once.

2. Amendment of section 494, Act V of 1898.

In the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898), section 494 shall be renumbered as sub-section (1) thereof and after sub-section (1) renumbered as aforesaid, the following sub-section (2) and (3) shall be added, namely:-

(2) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in sub-section(1), the Federal Government or a Provincial Government may, before the judgment is pronounced by a trial court, withdraw from the prosecution of any person including an absconding accused who is found to be falsely involved for political reasons or through political victimization in any case initiated between 1st day of January, 1986 to 12th day of October, 1999 and upon such withdrawal clause (a) and clause (b) of sub-section (1) shall apply.

(3) For the purposes of exercise of powers under sub-section (2) the Federal Government and the Provincial Government may each constitute a Review Board to review the entire record of the case and furnish recommendations as to their withdrawal or otherwise.

(4) The Review Board in case of Federal Government shall be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court with Attorney-General and Federal Law Secretary as its members and in case of Provincial Government it shall be headed by a retired judge of the High Court with Advocate-General and/or Prosecutor-General and Provincial Law Secretary as its members.

(5) A review Board undertaking review of a case may direct the Public Prosecutor or any other concerned authority to furnish to it the record of the case.

3. Amendment of section 39, Act LXXXV of 1976.

(1) In the Representation of the People Act, 1976 (LXXXV of 1976), in section 39, after sub-section (6), the following new sub-section (7) shall be added, namely:-
(7) After consolidation of results the Returning Officer shall give to such contesting candidates and their election agents as are present during the consolidation proceedings, a copy of the result of the count notified to the Commission immediately against proper receipt and shall also post a copy thereof to the other candidates and election agents.

4. Amendment of section 18, Ordinance XVIII of 1999.
In the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 (XVIII of 1999), hereinafter referred to as the said Ordinance, in section 18, in clause (e), for the full stop at the end a colon shall be substituted and thereafter the following proviso shall be added, namely:-

Provided that no sitting member of Parliament or a Provincial Assembly shall be arrested without taking into consideration the recommendations of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Ethics referred to in clause (aa) or Special Committee of the Provincial Assembly on Ethics referred to in clause (aaa) of section 24, respectively.

5. Amendment of section 24, Ordinance XVIII of 1999.

In the said ordinance, in section 24,-

(i) in clause (a) for the full stop at the end a colon shall be substituted and thereafter the following proviso shall be inserted, namely.-
Provided that no sitting member of Parliament or a Provincial Assembly shall be arrested without taking into consideration the recommendations of Special Parliamentary Committee on Ethics or Special Committee of the Provincial Assembly on Ethics referred to in clause (aa) and (aaa), respectively, before which the entire material and evidence shall be placed by the chairman, NAB.
; and

(ii) after clause (a), amended as aforesaid, the following new clauses (aa) and (aaa) shall be inserted, namely;-
(aa) The Special Parliamentary Committee on Ethics referred to in the proviso to clause (a) above shall consist of a chairman who shall be a member of either House of Parliament and eight members each from the National Assembly and Senate to be selected by the Speaker, National Assembly and Chairman Senate, respectively, on the recommendations of Leader of the House and Leader of the Opposition of their respective Houses, with equal representation from both sides.

(aaa) The Special Committee of the provincial Assembly on Ethics shall consist of a Chairman and eight members to be selected by the Speaker of the Provincial Assembly on the recommendation of Leader of the House and Leader of the Opposition, with equal representation from both sides.

6. Amendment of section 31A, Ordinance XVIII of 1999.
In the said Ordinance, in section 31A, in clause (a), for the full stop at the end a colon shall be substituted and thereafter the following new clause (aa) shall be inserted, namely:-
(aa) An order or judgment passed by the Court in absentia against an accused is void ab initio and shall not be acted upon.

7. Insertion of new section, Ordinance, XVIII of 1999.
In the said Ordinance, after section 33, the following new section shall be inserted, namely:-
33A. Withdrawal and termination of prolonged pending proceedings initiated prior to 12th October, 1999.

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Ordinance or any other law for the time being in force, proceedings under investigation or pending in any court including a High Court and the Supreme Court of Pakistan initiated by or on a reference by the National Accountability Bureau inside or outside Pakistan including proceedings continued under section 33, requests for mutual assistance and civil party to proceedings initiated by the Federal Government before the 12th day of October, 1999 against holders of public office stand withdrawn and terminated with immediate effect and such holders of public office shall also not be liable to any action in future as well under this Ordinance for acts having been done in good faith before the said date;
Provided that those proceedings shall not be withdrawn and terminated which relate to cases registered in connection with the cooperative societies and other financial and investment companies or in which no appeal, revision or constitutional petition has been filed against final judgment and order of the Court or in which an appellate or revisional order or an order in constitutional petition has become final or in which voluntary return or plea bargain has been accepted by the Chairman, National Accountability Bureau under section 25 or recommendations of the Conciliation Committee have been accepted by the Governor, State bank of Pakistan under section 25A.

(2) No action or claim by way of suit, prosecution, complaint or other civil or criminal proceeding shall lie against the Federal, Provincial or Local Government, the National Accountability Bureau or any of their officers and functionaries for any act or thing done or intended to be done in good faith pursuant to the withdrawal and termination of cases under sub-section (1) unless they have deliberately misused authority in violation of law.

Pakistan has become more Corrupt Latest,Transparency International Corruption Report

According to the latest Transparency International (TI) corruption report, Pakistan has become more corrupt as compared to 2008, diplomatic sources said on Monday.

The TI is likely to announce its report today (Tuesday) and a diplomatic source from a key European country confided that the TI’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2009 does not bring good news for Pakistan.

Declining to share the details of the report which the diplomat claimed to possess, he said Pakistan had moved up quite a few positions in the list of the most corrupt countries.

“You should not be surprised to see Pakistan doing even worse than one of your neighbouring countries that was on top of the list of the most corrupt nations in mid 90s,” the diplomat said.

Only in September, the Transparency International had issued a stinging indictment on the eve of a high-profile New York meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan where President Zardari was to meet US President Barack Obama. Then the TI had stated: “How can one expect from any donor to come forward to assist Pakistan in its current financial crisis, when there exists no law against corruption.”

Releasing the annual report, the TI chief in Pakistan, Adeel Gilani, had said that anti-corruption efforts in the country had taken a 180 degree turn after Gen Pervez Musharraf issued the National Reconciliation Ordinance on October 5, 2007, 56 days after the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption.

The timing of the TI report’s release will bring embarrassment for President Zardari, whose government’s credibility is already being questioned internationally because the president’s own image and that of many of his key players are plagued by serious corruption charges.

When the print media carried the last TI report, PPP Secretary Information Fauzia Wahab had charged the Transparency International of conspiring against the elected government. She had also said that carrying such a report by the media was like working against the interests of Pakistan.