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Pakistan didn’t slide in Transparency report due to financial corruption, says Fawad

Updated 25 Jan, 2022
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry urged the judiciary to conduct open hearings of the "public-interest cases" like Noor Muqadam and Usman Mirza. Photo via Twitter/Information Ministry/File
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry urged the judiciary to conduct open hearings of the "public-interest cases" like Noor Muqadam and Usman Mirza. Photo via Twitter/Information Ministry/File

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday said that Pakistan’s score “did not decrease because of financial corruption” in the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2021 and stressed the need for reforms for rule of law and state capture.

“A complete answer on the Corruption Perceptions Index will be given after a complete country wise report comes,” he said while briefing reporters about the decisions taken in the federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad.

Pakistan has ranked 140 out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perception Index 2021 according to a report by Transparency International released on Tuesday. In 2020, the country ranked 124 on the global corruption list. As per the details in the Transparency International report, Pakistan’s score, which was previously 31, slipped by three points to 28 on the index this year.

While admitting the findings of the report, Fawad claimed that except the Economist Intelligence Unit Country Index every other institution – including Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index, Global Insights Business and Risk indicator, PRS group, World Bank Country Institution, World Economic Forum, World Justice Project, and Varieties of Democracy – maintained Pakistan’s ranking.

“I would ask fellow Pakistanis to check who head this [Economist Intelligence Unit Country Index] then you will know how Pakistan decreased,” he said, adding that there was “no doubt” the country needed reforms in the two areas mentioned by the report – rule of law and state capture.

He was of the view that the rule of law was a process and every institution has to work for it – especially the judiciary. The information minister called on the judiciary to conduct open hearings of the “public-interest cases” like Noor Mukadam and Usman Mirza as such matters make public perception.

Rs5b worth of funds approved for census

Fawad said the federal cabinet has endorsed Rs5 billion worth of funds for population census and it would complete in December this year.

“We will have the results of this pilot project in April and May and in December it will be completed. In January, the Election Commission of Pakistan will start a new delimitation. Next elections will be held on new delimitations,” he said.

The Economic Coordination Committee on January 22 approved Rs5 billion worth of funds for conducting the digital population census within 18 months so that the next elections of 2023 may be held on such results.

Criminal law amendments

Moreover, the information minister also spoke about the criminal law amendments and shared the government’s recommendations in the intended legislation.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while answering a question from a caller during a programme called ‘Aap Ka Wazir-e-Azam, Aap Kay Saath’ on Sunday, had said the government was planning to bring changes in the criminal justice system and plans under way to work against cartels.

  • Every criminal case will be decided within nine months and if it takes more time then the district and sessions court judge will write the reasons for such a delay to the chief justice. The same applies to the prosecutor. The investigation will be conducted against the person found guilty.
  • Police are being given bail power in order to formalise it
  • Plea bargain clause brought in the criminal law in order to overcome court’s burden while dealing with financial cases
  • Bachelor of Arts is the requirement for an SHO and he/she should have the title of sub-inspector
  • Prosecution service established
  • Modern devices for forensic labs
  • Increase bail authority
  • Increasing days of challan submission from 14 to 45 for police

Furthermore, Fawad said that a summary would be presented in the Economic Coordination Council for providing subsidies to labourers, who are going abroad, in Covid test fees.

He admitted that Pakistan’s imports were increased but to a great extent it was a “positive import”. 88% increase was witnessed in textile machinery imports, he added.

The cabinet approved $11.6 million worth of compensation amount for Dasu attack casualties.

To a question on Lahore High Court decision on River Ravi Urban Development project, he said: “We have no problem. Our only problem is that you [LHC] took 11 months to decide this.”

The minister reiterated the need for a mechanism to have a forum to talk on such matters, saying that the government would challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.

On Shahzad Akbar’s resignation, he said the next person would have a “challenge” to continue the work.

“Chaudhry Shujaat [Hussain] is a senior politician and whenever he speaks he speaks in a sane tone we respect his statements and we carefully listen to his suggestions and we also consider PML-Q people as our main advisers,” he said to a query related to former PM’s advice to PM Imran to beware of the incumbent adviser and spokespersons.