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Pakistani politicians pledge to combat corruption

Political leaders publicly commit to clean up government at the invitation of anti-corruption watchdog

Party leaders from across the political spectrum convened at the Conference Centre in Islamabad on Thursday, 19 September 2002 to commit their parties to the service of the people of Pakistan by ensuring that all of those elected in October will confront corruption effectively.

The conference was also addressed by the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, who gave his own pledge to the people of Pakistan to continue the fight against corruption.

The conference was convened by Transparency International, in conjunction with TI-Pakistan (Pakistan's national chapter in the global TI movement), as a politically neutral and impartial body. It was chaired by Jeremy Pope, Shazadi Beg, Jeremy Carver and Shaukat Oman. It was attended by nearly all leading political parties contesting the elections: ANP, JI, Millat, MQM, NAP, PML(N), PML(QA), PPP(S) and SDA. Also present were leading members of the Cabinet, representatives of the diplomatic corps and donor organisations, including the World Bank and IMF, representatives of civil society and students.

After political leaders had addressed the conference, committing themselves and their parties to the fight against corruption, the party leaders signed a formal pledge to the people of Pakistan. In the pledge, they commit themselves to adopting and implementing an effective anti-corruption reform programme which will strengthen accountability and transparency throughout all levels of federal, provincial and local government.

They conclude by saying that "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".

The participants believed that this was an historic occasion for Pakistan, because for the first time political leaders had come together to form a united front across parties and personalities against one of the greatest evils of our time. They saw this is a major advance in creating a mature democracy in which politicians serve the people, and not their own personal interests.

In the past few years, the fight against corruption in Pakistan has been waged with increasing success. Internationally, Pakistan is seen as having made headway. However, there is still a very long way to go before the country achieves acceptable levels of social and economic progress and a just and honest environment for all. The progress represented by the National Accountability Bureau and the recently formulated National Anti-Corruption Strategy must be sustained; and the participants agreed that they should meet again after the elections to discuss how reform can most effectively be carried forward.

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