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Pak's anti-corruption strategy in doldrums since NAB chief's removal


March 31, 2011 - Islamabad

The Pakistan Government's plan to revise the national anti-corruption strategy is in the doldrums, as the post of National Accountability Bureau chairman is lying vacant since the Supreme court declared the appointment of Justice (retired) Syed Deedar Hussain Shah as illegal and ordered his removal as NAB chief on March 10.

The NAB, which was approved by former president Pervez Musharraf's cabinet in 2002, and the Transparency International, which had jointly drafted the strategy, had signed a Memorandum of Understanding on January 13, 2011, to revise it.

"The whole process of revision of the strategy has come to a halt because the NAB chairman, who is the only decision-making authority, is not there," The Dawn quoted Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) Chairman Adil Gilani, as saying.

He said that the NAB and the TI had chalked out a six-month plan for the revision of the strategy, keeping in view the passage of 18th and 19th Amendments and the announcement of new judicial policy.

"A two-week workshop of all stakeholders, who were supposed to give suggestions to improve the strategy, was to be held in Islamabad this month," he said.

When asked why it was felt that the strategy should be revised, Gilani said it had to be improved because nine years had passed since its introduction.

A senior NAB official said that no further action was being taken on the improvement of the strategy, and added that the basic reason for the proposed revision was that earlier, it could not be implemented in true letter and spirit.

"The strategy was to be implemented in all federal ministries to control the white-collar crime, but only a few ministries followed it," he said.

The national anti-corruption strategy approved by Musharraf in November 2002 had empowered the NAB to check or monitor all development projects having estimated cost of 500 million rupees and above.

It has, however, been learnt that the direct interference and involvement of the NAB in uplift schemes under the strategy were not acceptable to the provincial governments.

The TI had said in its annual report for 2009 that corruption in Pakistan had shot up to 195 billion rupees from 45 billion rupees in 2006, and declared police, power and health sectors and the land department as the most corrupt.

Most respondents in a survey conducted by the TI were of the opinion that discretionary powers and a lack of accountability and transparency were the main reasons behind corruption in the country.

ANI

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