Pakistan - Corruption
Corruption remains widespread in Pakistan, especially in the areas of government procurement, international contracts, and taxation. Giving and accepting bribes are criminal acts punishable by confiscation of property, imprisonment, recovery of ill-gotten gains, dismissal from governmental service, and reduction in governmental rank. In 2011, Pakistan ranked 134 in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (with a score of 2.5 out of 10), gaining 9 places from 143 in 2010.
The law provides for criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) organized under the 1999 National Accountability Ordinance, serves as the highest-level anti-corruption organization, with a mandate to eliminate corruption through awareness, prevention, and enforcement. Initially focusing its efforts on well-known politicians and government officials guilty of gross abuses of power and stealing public funds, the NAB refocused its strategy in 2002 after citizens and human rights groups accused the agency of being a political tool for the detention of former officials and party leaders, as well as serving as a means to deviate from the normal justice system. During most of the year, the NAB was ineffective, largely because it did not have a chairman or prosecutor general, and was poorly funded. The former NAB chairman resigned in June 2010; the GoP appointed a new NAB Chairman in October 2011. Pakistanís new anti-corruption leader spent the remaining part of 2011 working to fill long vacant positions and seeking appropriate funding levels needed to adequately perform NABís mandate.
The Competition Commission of Pakistan, formed in 2007, is an independent, quasi-regulatory, quasi-judicial body that worked to ensure competition between companies to enhance economic efficiency and protect consumers from anticompetitive behavior. The organization sought to prohibit corrupt activities, such as collusive practices, abuse of market dominance, deceptive marketing, and illegitimate mergers and acquisitions. Despite dynamic leadership, active community engagement, and lower-level court decisions against businesses engaged in anticompetitive activities, the Competition Commission is hindered by insufficient government funding and slow progress of its cases in the judicial court of appeals. Corruption was pervasive in politics and government, and various politicians and public office holders faced allegations of corruption, including bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement.
A 2007 National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), promulgated under former president Pervez Musharraf, provided an amnesty mechanism for public officials who were accused of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murder, and terrorism between January 1, 1986, and October 12, 1999. In December 2009, the Supreme Court declared the NRO null and void, and reopened all 8,000 cases against those who had received amnesty, including the president, ministers, and parliamentarians. However, in January 2010, the Zardari government filed a petition challenging the Supreme Court's 2009 decision, and requesting its review. The issue remained unresolved at the end of 2011. Corruption within the lower levels of the police is common. The July 2010 survey by Transparency International noted that the major cause of corruption was lack of accountability, followed by lack of merit and low salaries. Some police charged fees to register genuine complaints and accepted money for registering false complaints. Bribes to avoid charges were commonplace. Critics charged that appointments of station house officers (SHOs) were politicized.
Widespread allegations of corruption plagued the governmentís rental power plant projects (RPP), which were a priority in 2008-2009 to address the countryís acute energy shortage. Citizens and parliamentarians accused government officials of providing financial kickbacks and awarding extravagantly priced rental power plants to their close acquaintances. In December 2010 and January 2011, the Supreme Court found two power companies guilty of receiving more than 970 million rupees ($11.2 million) in advance payments to provide electricity but failing to commence commercial operations by the agreed date. The court ordered both companies to return the funds advanced, and the government abandoned the RPP power project as a policy priority.
Anecdotal reports persisted about corruption in the district and sessions courts, including reports of small-scale facilitation payments requested by court staff. Lower-court judges lacked the requisite independence and sometimes were pressured by superior court judges as to how to decide a case. Lower courts remained corrupt, inefficient, and subject to pressure from prominent wealthy, religious, and political figures. Government involvement in judicial appointments increased the government's control over the court system.
The 2002 Freedom of Information Ordinance allows any citizen access to public records held by a public body of the federal government, including ministries, departments, boards, councils, courts, and tribunals. It does not apply to government-owned corporations or provincial governments. The bodies must respond to requests for access within 21 days. Certain records are restricted from public access, including classified documents, those that would be harmful to a law enforcement case or an individual, or those that would cause grave and significant damage to the economy or the interests of the nation. NGOs criticized the ordinance for having too many exempt categories and for not encouraging proactive disclosure.
Pakistan is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery, but it is a signatory to the Asian Development Bank/OECD Anti Corruption Initiative. Pakistan has also ratified the UN Convention against corruption.
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