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Concern over allegations that Pakistan’s government will shut down anti-corruption watchdog

Transparency International (TI) is concerned about media reports suggesting Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mr. Rehman Malik may issue an order to shut down Transparency International Pakistan, the accredited national chapter of TI, active in the country since 2000.

On 28 November, the news agency Asian News International (ANI) published an article that quoted Pakistani Federal Minister of the Interior, Mr. Rehman Malik, apparently accusing TI Pakistan of acting like a “detective agency” and seeming to threaten that it will not be allowed to continue operating in the country.

Following earlier allegations published in Pakistan’s media against TI Pakistan in early November, Transparency International wrote to the President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, expressing concern about the threats that undermined the operation of TI Pakistan, and urged him to guarantee the rule of law and freedom and safety of staff at TI Pakistan.

In a letter sent today to Supreme Court Chief Justice Mr Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, TI renews its expression of concern and urges that TI Pakistan should be protected from illegal or extrajudicial acts to fetter its anti-corruption work.

This latest reported innuendo follows other press reports of government officials calling upon all ministries, divisions and departments to sever contacts with TI Pakistan. The alleged threats published in national media came just weeks after the release of the TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2010, which scores Pakistan with 2.3 out of 10 points, inferring that corruption is perceived to be very high in the country.

TI Pakistan is a locally registered non-profit organisation, operating since 2000 and recognised as a fully accredited TI Chapter since 2005. TI Pakistan follows the Guiding Principles of TI, and monitors the effectiveness with which existing investigative authorities handle complaints. Its cooperative work with the Government of Pakistan focuses on monitoring public contracting processes and providing legal advice to assist victims of corruption to make their complaints to the government.

TI is therefore calling on the government of Pakistan to promote the shared interest for good governance by helping TI Pakistan re-establish common ground and purpose without worry about the legal basis for their work.

Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption

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