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Government of Pakistan gives amnesty to corrupt politicians

National Reconciliation Ordinance 2007

The National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) 2007 is a negation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) as well as the spirit of “Political Parties Pledge” to serve the people with the highest level of personal integrity, says Transparency International Pakistan.

Just 56 days after ratification of UNCAC by the President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharaf, the Federal Government on October 5th, 2007 promulgated NRO 2007. “This indeed is a setback and a reversal of anti-corruption initiatives adopted since 2002 under the National Anti Corruption strategy”, said Chairman TI Pakistan, Syed Adil Gilani.

The amendment in NAB Ordinance for the procedure of arrest of sitting parliamentarian (quoted below), are great setbacks to the anticorruption efforts in Pakistan.

“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 of January, 1986 to 12th of October, 1999 and upon such withdrawal clause (a) and clause (b) of sub-section (1) shall apply, and "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."

Syed Adil Gilani said that Pakistan has ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption UNCAC on 9th August 2007 , which states that:

“Parties to this Convention, concerned about the seriousness of problems and threats posed by corruption to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardizing sustainable development and the rule of law. Concerned also about the links between corruption and other forms of crime, in particular organized crime and economic crime, including money-laundering, and concerned further about cases of corruption that involve vast quantities of assets, which may constitute a substantial proportion of the resources of states, and that threaten the political stability and sustainable development of those states.”

Under the UNCAC Article 5, Preventive anti-corruption policies and practices Pakistan has committed that:

“Each State Party shall, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system, develop and implement or maintain effective, coordinated anticorruption policies that promote the participation of society and reflect the principles of the rule of law, proper management of public affairs and public property, integrity, transparency and accountability, each State Party shall endeavour to establish and promote effective practices aimed at the prevention of corruption and each State Party shall endeavour to periodically evaluate relevant legal instruments and administrative measures with a view to determining their adequacy to prevent and fight corruption.”

The Government of Pakistan in its National Anticorruption Strategy prepared in 2002 had blamed past governments of abuse of power in the following words:

“Sadly, the flagrant abuses of power by so many past public office holders, even when these office holders espoused anti-corruption and accountability, now undermines future attempts at tackling corruption. For example, as mentioned at section 3.2, the anti-corruption agencies were used as tools for political victimisation and many thus expect the NAB to engage in selective accountability. There is a fear of the accountability processes crashing unless buffered from political influences in the future setup. As outlined at section 3.2, previous attempts at tackling corruption have lacked political backing and have originated only from government source without the involvement of other parts of the national integrity system. The risk of unreconstructed political will is now the greatest threat to the successful achievement of the NACS goals.” The lack of political will of the present government has undermined the goals of NACS, he added.

The chairman of TI Pakistan said that the NRO 2007 is against the sprit of the “Political Parties Pledge to the People of Pakistan” which was signed by the Leaders of all Political Parties, PML(Q), PML (N), PPP(S), PTI, MQM, PNA(P), SDA, Millat Party and JI, including the President of Pakistan, the Ministers of Government and all participants on 19th September 2002 at the National Convention organized by Transparency International at Convention Centre Islamabad. It states: “All the parties solemnly pledge to the people of Pakistan that after the elections, and when the new government is sworn in, we will meet again to determine a united front against an evil that is undermining the future of our country and which is one that transcends the divides of political parties and persuasions, and 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. It also said that AWARE that the corruption crisis must be tackled openly by all, we invite every fellow citizen, to unite with us in a determination to rid our country once and for all of the corruption that has so retarded our country’s economic and social progress at home and marred our international image abroad.”

In 1997 Pakistan and India on CPI were 5th and 8th most corrupt countries out of 52 countries, and in 2007 this gap has substantially increased to 42nd and 106th most corrupt countries out of 180 countries. TI Pakistan believes in the Slogan that “Pakistan comes first” , but feels that unless legislators, Judiciary, Executive and the Civil Society plays their role in a just and impartial manner, the country will continue to be at the lowest level of corruption in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, CPI.

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