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Imran Khan unveils his anti-corruption policy

Imran Khan1Lahore: Leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan has put the fight against corruption at the center of his campaign and has vowed to make it his top priority if his party is brought to power in the elections this year.

To this end, the PTI today announced the publication of a report by Dr Azeem Ibrahim, noted international scholar, titled “Legal Structures to Address the Problem of Corruption in Pakistan.” The report is a weighty 150 pages of detailed examples of how Pakistan can address the three main issues of transparency, defining corruption and protection of whistleblowers.

The report, personally commissioned by Khan, provides extensive examples from other countries emerging from authoritarian rule outlining states benefiting from careful consideration of best practices in other administrations. Theoretically, Pakistan has attempted some progress, for example, a Freedom of Information Bill was proposed in 2002 but was never passed. Much of Pakistan’s legislation regarding anti-corruption dates back to 1860 in laws inherited from the British colonial administration. Generally, there are multiple laws in Pakistan which overlap, have gaps or even worse have been drafted to protect particular interest groups.

The report by Dr Ibrahim contains detailed analyses of legislation elsewhere that might be applicable to Pakistan as it is obviously necessary for a complete update and reform of anti-corruption legislation in Pakistan. Example are given of model legislation from the UN Convention Against Corruption, EU guidelines on corporate disclosure and compares legislation from countries as diverse as Turkey, Poland, Mexico, Azerbaijan, India and New Zealand.

The report stresses that any effective approach to combating corruption requires a legal framework, administrative resources, political will and the engagement of civil society.

The release of the report “Legal Structures to Address the Problem of Corruption in Pakistan” is yet another powerful step forward in Imran Khan’s political platform, and should command attention and respect from other parties as they refine their own campaign promises.

It will also open up avenues of public debate into the way Pakistan is governed and justice is administered, further defining the nature of democratic institutions in Pakistan and their future. Dr Ibrahim’s report will also serve to reinforce that Pakistan’s national interest and public trust relies on the primacy of the rule of law with an end to corrupt practices at federal, provincial and local levels.

Underlining the urgency of the problem – and the challenges – is the annual report from Transparency International Pakistan which was announced on December 5th 2012, showing that Pakistan has become even more corrupt since the last assessment and is now at 42 compared with 33. The 2012 index ranks 176 countries by their levels of public sector corruption with the score of 1 being highly corrupt and 100 clean. Corruption in Pakistan has reached its highest level during the last year and has totaled Rs12600 billion over the last five years.

Imran Khan affirmed his commitment to eradicating corruption in an Al Jazeera interview on December 5th, recognizing that all major corruption cases were related to the prime minister, president and senior cabinet ministers. Cleaning up the cabinet would be a first step, and then a major overhaul of legislation would follow.

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