PM defends govt against damning Transparency Int'l report – The Express Tribune

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PM Imran took his cabinet into confidence over the “numerous steps” the ruling party has taken to eradicate graft
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday defended his party's anti-corruption drive in the wake of the country's dismal ranking on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) as he expressed resolve to become more aggressive with his push for speedy disposal of pending corruption cases.
The global graft ranking has been viewed as a major blow to the ruling party’s rallying narrative – a central campaign promise of his party to restore a steady hand to governance, particularly on the issue of corruption.
The development came as a shot in the arm for the opposition that seized on the index's ranking to lambast PM Imran over his government's "record-breaking" corruption.
Alarmed by the ranking and the anti-government narrative it helped generate, the prime minister took his cabinet into confidence over the “numerous steps” the ruling party has taken to eradicate graft during its rule.
Read: TI report dents PTI’s ‘anti-graft’ narrative
In the federal cabinet meeting, the prime minister while apprising the cabinet about various steps taken to reduce corruption in the country lashed out at political rivals, saying that “those who committed corruption were now staying abroad instead of facing corruption cases in Pakistan.”
In the past, the prime minister used to blast the governments over CPI rankings, accused them of corruption and asserted that the nation was paying the price of rulers’ corruption in the form of increased taxes, He vowed to eradicate corruption within 90 days after coming into power.
Ironically, in order to form the government in 2018, PM Imran had to take help from those whom he used to call the biggest ‘thieves’ in the past. For a long time, Imran Khan has been putting corruption as the single biggest issue of the country yet his own government had no dearth of corruption scandals in the last three-and-a-half-year and the country went further down on the global watchdog’s perception list.
In the post-cabinet press briefing, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain emphasized that Transparency International's report does not mention financial corruption, saying the country’s ranking on CPI was dropped due to weak implementation of law and ‘state capture’.
In its defence, the government’s spokesperson said that the complete report has yet to come and the current score of 140 out of the total 180 was based on different indicators, including financial corruption, accountability, rule of law and state capture.
The information minister reiterated in the press conference that Pakistan got further down on the index, not because of financial corruption but weak rule of law and state capture. “The report did not include any kind of financial corruption,” he said.
Read More: Shehbaz mocks govt over Transparency International ranking
The minister said that the report was prepared on the basis of the reports of various organizations and NGOs, adding that all the institutions maintained Pakistan’s ranking but only the Economist Intelligence Country Unit has dropped the rankings. “Check who is its head in Pakistan and then you will know why the ranking was dropped,” Fawad said.
The minister clarified that he did not want to get into any controversy about whether the report was correct or not. Undoubtedly, he said, there is a need to take steps for strengthening rule of law in Pakistan and that’s what the Prime Minister has stressed time and again.
“No doubt a lot of work needs to be done in the area of rule of law,” Fawad said while explaining how different systems for the rich and the poor were going on. Urging the judiciary to play its role, he emphasized that all the institutions needed to work collectively for establishing the rule of law in letter and spirit.
“Judiciary should think about it … there is no harm in showing trials of corruption cases,” Fawad said, adding the government was also working on bringing in reforms in this regard. His statement came after he reiterated the government’s request to the country’s chief justices to live broadcast trials of Sharif and Zardari families by installing cameras inside the courtrooms.
He believed that such steps would improve Pakistan's perception at the international level, adding a comprehensive response would be given once Transparency International releases its complete report.
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