The Sindh Assembly united on Tuesday to rage against Transparency International, a global civil society organisation, for ranking Pakistan 34 on the global corruption index.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Sharjeel Inam Memon moved a motion, which was backed by a majority of legislators from the treasury and opposition benches, criticising Transparency International’s report and calling it a “negative perception of the country”.
Memon said that the character of the organisation’s country head, Adil Jilani, who has presented this report is ‘dubious’. Jilani was sacked from his job at the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) on various corruption charges, claimed Memon. “How can a person who was involved in corruption cases level these allegations?”
The MPA was also seething about the fact that the institution had dared to present a report during the PPP’s regime. “Why was there no report during the tenure of dictators?” he demanded, saying that the organisation had unveiled its findings in 2002 and the second report was presented after a four-year gap in 2006. “But when the PPP is in power, the organisation is bent on presenting reports that defame Pakistan internationally!”
According to the revenue minister, Jam Mehtab Dahar, such reports are always made to appease international donors, who give institutions like these the ‘agenda to insult governments’. He was confident that the people of Pakistan would not believe in ‘these kinds of reports’.
Jam Madad Ali, Opposition leader, supported the motion more cautiously. He said that the government must avoid appointing corrupt people on important posts. “A few people convicted in corruption cases by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) are still appointed to very important posts. This practice will definitely defame the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rafique Engineer, the kachchi abadis minister, said that most NGOs, except for a few patriotic organisations, are working for a global agenda. “Corruption is not a new thing, it has been going on since independence,” he said.
Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro said that the organisation had not mentioned the sources of information that convinced them to rank Pakistan 34. He promised to raise the issue in the coming cabinet meeting regarding the audit of NGOs. The house unanimously approved the motion.
DNA lab and private schools
It was the private members’ day, during which members of the assembly have an opportunity to move their private bills, motions and resolutions. Five private resolutions were part of business, out of which two were passed.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MPA Wasim Ahmed moved the motion to set up a DNA laboratory in Karachi. A state-of-the-art DNA testing laboratory was necessary because of terrorist attacks across the province and the need to convict perpetrators, he said.
Police and intelligence agencies are having a lot of trouble finding evidence because there are only two such laboratories, one in Islamabad and the other in Lahore. Humera Alwani of the PPP added that the laboratory will also help in rape case investigations. “Police always ask about DNA reports and too often FIRs in these cases are not lodged,” she said. Last year, 276 rape cases were reported in the province, out of which FIRs for just 37 cases were registered.
Another resolution on action against private schools charging high fees was also passed by a thumping majority. The resolution was moved by MQM MPA Bilquees Mukhtar, who said that provisions of Sindh Private Education (Regulation and Controls) Amendments Act, 2003, which regulate and monitor all private schools and colleges, have not been implemented. The government should issue orders to the education department to ensure action against institutions that are charging unnecessary fees from middle-class parents. A 25 per cent increase has been made by institutions while around Rs50,000 to Rs100,000 are charged as admission fee. The motion was sent to the standing committee to propose what kind of action will be taken against such schools.
Fake electricity bills
Another topic of discussion in the session was alleged fake bills being issed by Wapda in flood-hit areas, including kachcha areas. PPP MPA Syed Ahmed Ali Shah said that people had moved out of their homes because of the flood but had still received large electricity bills.
Soomro responded that the issue had been taken up at a meeting with the Sindh chief minister, who had assured him that he will raise the issue with the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2010.
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