Posted by: Administrator | 14 January, 2005

President address to Conference on Combating Corruption in Private and Public Sectors

20 August 2003

Dr. Hafeez, General Muneer Hafeez, Shaukat Sahib, Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. Assalam-o-Alaikum!

It is indeed my immense pleasure to be addressing this concluding session of the conference organized by Board of Investment in collaboration with National Accountability Bureau and transparency International. It’s a pleasure to be talking to you on checking corruption from the public and private sectors. Needless saying that right at the outset that I personally attack immense importance to an anti-corruption rides and measures. My belief is that the greatest malaise the greatest problem the greatest ill that this country has suffered from arises from corruption and denial of merit is also a form of corruption so you can really combine the two together. But I have differentiated corruption from and denial of merit. These two ills have caused tremendous and immense damage to the country. I think the state that we were in arose from these two basic ills in our society. I like to highlight the overall impact of corruption on the society and the ill effects or the malaise that it causes to the society at large.

I noted down four effects. Firstly it undermines the good governance and i erodes the rule of law. Secondly it hampers economic growth and all government’s efforts to poverty alleviation. It distorts merit and honest competition thus demoralizing quality and encouraging mediocrity. In fact I have always been saying that if you group horses and mules together in avoiding merit the looser is the horse and the gainer is the mule. I would go to the extent of not calling them mules but donkeys and combine horses and donkeys together the gainer obviously is the donkey the horse has to reduce its speed. This is most unfortunate thing in any society where the horses are not allowed to gallop forward and take the leade and they have to be tied together with the donkeys around.

Lastly ladies and gentlemen it undermines the standing of the nation the respect of the nation internationally which have been amply brought out here where we stood and whenever one travels abroad and if your reputation is where it stood it is disgraceful for any honorable person traveling abroad. Where people look down upon you for belonging to a nation which is so down trodden and yet so corrupt.

I then thinking on forms or the categories of corruption in my own mind. And I very broadly place corruption in three categories. The first one I call is petty bribery by the lower echelons of society. Although this can not be condoned but for this to an extent the blame has to be shared by the government. Because of the reason that may e their pays are incompatible with powers they enjoy in many occasion, many areas and in many sectors. They can not make two ends meet. They don’t have needed security for their families, for the welfare of their children, for the proper education and health of their children and the security of their future. If the government has not adequately provided for the security I think the share of this corruption of this category of people ought to be taken by the government also and therefore, I would say that government needs to address this issue of incompatibility of pays with the jobs assigned to people. And our government is very conscious of this fact that we need to bring up the pay structure at least to corporate level where then one can demand honesty from everyone and not feel guilty at the lower level that you are not providing him any thing and demanding honesty from him.

The second category I thought is corruption by government functionaries. In various departments in the award of contracts, deals, formulation of rules and regulations, collection of taxes and revenues undertaking or going for medic purchases for the government for organizations. I think this corruption causes grave harm to the nation, ultimate sufferers of this kind of corruption are the people and also the nation itself because I think nations growth 3 was hampered. I personally feel that is this kind of corruption is really criminal because it is the nation and the people of the nation which suffer from this corruption.

The last categorization that I thought is the corruption by the high, wealthy and the mighty. This simply is a result of insatiable greed and absolutely unpardonable It is criminal and must be punished to the maximum. Because, a person who has enough but is greedy to get more is certainly guilty of the highest crime. We some-how in Pakistan have got used to trying to show more than we have or a degree of discontent has set in our minds. In Urdu one would say following without consideration getting more if you have one house make three houses. If you have Toyota then buy a Mercedes. If you have a Mercedes then why not buy a helicopter its better, traveling faster. There is a greed for getting more and more and acquiring more so I would say there is discontent I don’t think that such people can ever be happy in their hearts because they can never be content. I would like to make in this two points. That contentment is the biggest virtue in a person. Then ought to be looking downwards looking under people below you rather than continuously looking at the people above you or those maybe who have more than you. I believe that ambition is good every one must be ambitions enough to rise but this should not only be kept within limits but also one should carryout the self analysis and see what kind of quality one has to rise further.

In Islam we know we believe in destiny we believe in Allah’s will so one should be content what level one has achieved with what you have. May be that is your capability. May be that is the level where you are suppose to be end up at but be content with that. Unfortunately in our society in Pakistan we do not carry out our self analysis and we are continuously in struggle to rise not with our own qualities but by dragging people down or by pulling others down. We want to take their place so I think these are the ills that we suffer from. So therefore my first point let’s take contentment as the biggest virture lets see the people underneath, below us and feel happy with our status that we have so much more than vast majority may be.

The other point I want make is my finding is that in any organization or in any set up 10% of the people are to be categorized as incorrigible. They are corrupt they will remain corrupt in spite of all that they may have. These are the categories that need to be sorted out. There are another 10% I would say who are incorruptible. They will not be corrupt I believe that in our society there are such people who are incorruptible. But this vast majority of 80% sinister, they are seen the leader, they are seen the environment they go along they tread along with what is happening through the leadership from the top what is coming down. They will be corrupt if the leader is corrupt and then the whole organization becomes corrupt and if the leader is good he is honest this 80% will be honest to quite a degree. So, therefore the extreme significance of merit people being placed in charge of places on merit having quality and quality and quality to motivate others having the quality to bring merit and having the quality to this 80% of followers so therefore I think when we talk of corruption denying merit this is one of the biggest ills. It is this 80% of the people who are going to the side of corruption.

So therefore conclusion obviously is that we must select people on merit, place them in charge of organization or in any place on merit. Because I believe quality, honesty all virtues start from the top. They can not start from the middle. If a middle person was to start it he can not exist in the organization he will not be allowed to exist in the organization unless the top organization gives him the force to exist or back up for the honesty and dedication that they show. So therefore selecting and placing the correct people in authority is very important.

The basic ingredients to check corruption I 4 feel are firstly developing strong institutions and systems, which avoid any discretionary authority and powers to any one. Then banking more on E-governance or computerization so that human contact is reduced to the minimum. Improving the qualities of law enforcement agencies is another area to check corruption. Sometimes you find yourself very helpless to deal with situations because your law enforcement agency is unable to deliver on whatever you are thinking so therefore the quality of law enforcement agency is extremely important. Then the quality at judiciary. I would say may be the key factor in bringing corruption to check and finally correct leadership which I just enunciated. I think these are five broad areas I thought which are essential ingredients of checking or arresting corruption. I would now like to enumerate the institutional measures that we took to arrest corruption in Pakistan. We have introduced the system of merit both in the initial selection of the person and in the promotion at different levels.

The government machinery including the federal and provincial service commissions and central selection Boards are all here for fairness in their decisions. This is ensured by induction of just and upright persons as their members. All the members each and every one of them and any public service commission individual because who was appointed by me I am 100% sure are above board and it was done absolutely on merit. The state bank of Pakistan has been given full autonomy with regard to policy formulations and management of all public funds. They have also been given independent and and other financial institutions in the country which they have done exceptionally well.

The National Accountability Bureau has been empowered to make judicial inquiries into cases of corruption in public sector. May I say that within the environment of Pakistan the achievement of National Accountability Bureau is exceptional? They have put the fear of God into the mids of high and the mighty that were responsible for the plunder of billions. The security and exchange commission of Pakistan has been revamped and authorize to investigate and remedy corruption cases in the corporate sector. Again they have done an exceptionally good job I must say the local government system has been put in place to see the misuses of the public funds are eliminated at the grass root level. A system has been put in place one can’t say that they are functioning with 100% efficiency and honesty. But in the past expenditures at the grass root level were all controlled at the provincial and federal levels with the people at the grass root level for whom those are being done having no say what so ever and not even being knowing what is being done. So the very fact that now with the local government system power has been devolved down. Financial and administrative authority has been devolved down to the grass root level. At least these elected members are answerable to the people because people are seeing them and people know what money they have and it has to be spent in a certain way. So therefore, I am very sure with the maturing of local government system certainly honesty will come about and corruption will keep getting reduced. Along privatisation has been enacted so that processes and procedures are transparent and above board and I am very glad that this is so effective control for regulating banks that whatever privatisation has taken place it has been absolutely above board and nobody has questioned that. An independent Pakistan procurement regulatory authority has been created so that public purchases are judiciously made.

The institution of Tax obudsman has been created to control the element of corruption in the taxation procedures as well as in the tax collection personale. These are the elements of the top I thought which have been introduced. There are several other authorities institutional arrangements that we have made to check corruption with regard to the government of Pakistan’s full commitment to the issue of combating corruption I would also like to highlight certain other initiatives. As we all know that we have created a permanent National Accountability Bureau which has been 5 doing certainly a fine job in unearthing corruption. In seeing the results by National Accountability Bureau I know there is a lot of aspersion being cast but one has to see that we started from absolutely zero level and one has to see the glass I keep saying half full. The first part of the glass is concentrating on the half empty glass. If you have to see the full part as I said that the greatest achievement is putting the fear of God in the minds of those who could not even be touched they were taboo and corruption was so rampant that people had started following pride in saying that they are making money and they are corrupt.

At least now they are scared of saying that, they dare not say that Achievements of the National Accountability Bureau which are very creditable. Let me assure this gathering that I personally will always fully back National Accountability Bureau in Pakistan to keep doing this job of checking the high and mighty. As I said that the lower level the government takes the blame for them so one can easily shift focus from them which has been in the past I remember in the 70’s when there was martial- law. Whenever a rule or a law was made martial law regulation martial law order. I was in the martial law Headquarters I saw that its result was always restricted to this poor man standing. If you are to check the adulteration you go and check this vendor man standing and we used to get hold of him and he is getting flogged or some thing. If you are talking of bribery again go to the simple man who may be taking 50 rupees or 100 rupee and get hold of him and flog him. If you are talking of drugs even I remember we said that all the drug cases may be tried by the martial law courts. And we had some courts. I was here in Rawalpindi and what happened was that we used to get 100 cases a day. A person with 10 grams and 20 grams and 15 grams a poor man who is getting his worries off his head or may be using drug. I had to go to my General and say for heaven sake lets do away with this. And where are those who are selling tons of narcotics and trading in them none of them not one caught its unfortunate that whenever needed this we used to get hold of the same poor people, the same poor people already suffering, already down trodden. Get hold of them flog them, punish them that was the environment.

 But we are very proud to say I have always been telling the National Accountability Bureau forget the lower ones do not touch them and even to the extent may I say when we were discussing the sorry to KESC. Everyone was focusing initially in the kantas the people who are steeling electricity but I saw that these kantas were in the poor areas normally the lower category people and total consumption of their electricity was under 10% – 5 or 6% So, obviously lets forget the kantas. The actual problem was in defence society of Lahore or Karachi. Because that is where people are using 15 air conditioners and paying for one so we lets keep our focus right. I think we should be honest enough to keep our focus right. Let’s be content with what we have lets feel happy with whatever we have. Let’s live with in our means and let’s leave the poor alone also. I think that is the job of National Accountability Bureau and I would urge them to keep their focus correct.

We are the signatory ladies and gentlemen to the AOB and OECD as chairman National Accountability Bureau I said anti- corruption initiative of 30 November 2001 which has been endorsed by the 17 countries of Asia Pacific region and envisages a regional approach to the problem. We would like to contribute effectively to this. The holding of today’s conference and effective participation of the whole government in the activities itself a manifestation of our seriousness in this matter. I would also like to say that the signing of a pledge to the people of Pakistan is also a re-affirmation of government’s strong resolve to fight corruption to fight it with full force. I am very sure today’s deliberations on the subject must have brought forward issues which are duly addressed, will facilitate our drive against corruption.

Our intention should be to combat corruption where so ever and what so ever form it takes or exists in leaders at all level ministers there are so many of them sitting right in front and this hail has all the leadership 6 here have to show commitment have to show ownership of this level. It is we from which everything will follow as I said we are responsible for the conduct of 80% so therefore we must show commitment, we must show resolve, and we must show ownership at this anti-corruption drive. And I am very sure that if we show, it the 80% will be correct. With these words the ladies and gentlemen I would like to assure all of you the organizer the participants and the nation as a whole, I would say had given a collective strength we will Insha’Allah bring about the effective control on the menace of corruption as we go ahead. And as I said also the government’s corrective actions the government’s responsibility is to be fulfilled that must be fulfilled with the economic growth of the country. I am very positive that commitment of giving the basic necessity, security to the all classes of people to ensure taking them away from corruption.

I pray to God that in the comity of nations help us all Pakistanis to face the world with pride and good grace. I think this would result from the standing of the nation as a whole the perception of the nation abroad. So, it is extremely important that we play this role and change our perception abroad to the better so that, when we go out we walk with honor and we look at the people in their eyes straight talk straight.

I thank you ladies and gentlemen

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