By Muhammad Zeeshan Anwar
Corruption has been proving its presence globally since early periods of time to date. In some specific regions, it has immensely affected societies, contrary to that, in some places corruption can hardly be observed and noticed anywhere, whereas, some nations are known as mildly affected by corruption and corrupt practices.
The reason is there are certain known elements which promote corruption in societies, the elements as unjustified and meritless distribution of financial resources, greed of wealth among masses, and cunning aptitude to grab and plunder capitals. In some cases there are few other corruption contributing factors as seeking short cuts and opting unjustified means to gain financial benefits like the patterns of plundering, cheating, fraud, accumulating unjustified sources of income and misusing the conferred authority to grab money even by depriving someone from his legal rights, all those are known as the illegal sources to earn resources.
Every year, on the occasion of International Anti-corruption Day, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) organizes main ceremony at Presidency, Islamabad, whereas, the regional Bureaus of NAB organize ceremonies and Seminars to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day at provincial level. In this connection, NAB Lahore under the vibrant supervision of its Director General (DG), Mr. Ali Sarfraz Hussain also organized a mega annual event at Alhamrah Arts Council, Lahore.
The event was graced as chief Guest by Hon’able Governor Punjab, Mr. Muhammad Balig-ur-Rahman and Mr. Asghar Nadeem Syed, Mr. Tasnim Norani and Vice Chancellor Government Home Economics University, Dr. Kanwal Amin as the guests on stage along with other dignitaries from numerous walks of life, media officials, faculty members and students from different Schools, Colleges and Universities for their contribution in the sacred cause of anti-corruption to show their commitment for further enhancing the efforts to combat corruption.
Mr. Ali Sarfraz Hussain while addressing the participants maintained that the core mission and aim of NAB is to be a credible, effective and dynamic anti-corruption organization that would offer an active assistance in enabling an ideal environment for formation of a corruption free atmosphere through engaging and motivating all the stake holders of society. He also reviewed the resolve to eradicate corruption by opting a three pronged strategy i.e awareness, prevention and enforcement, the salient features being:
To take effective measures for the detection, investigation and prosecution of white collar crimes
To recover the state money and other assets from the culprits of financial crimes
To educate the society about the causes and effects of corruption & devise procedures and implement policies for a corruption-free society
To seek, obtain or give mutual legal assistance internationally
DG NAB stated that the ill effects of corruption wreak havoc on society and also in the form of bad shaped economy, unemployed youth, weak infrastructure, non-welfare of masses, hampered development and progress of the nation beside many others. No wonder this is how Pakistan ranks very low in the current rankings of the Corruption Perception Index – CPI.
DG NAB Lahore also pointed out that the unfortunate fact that certain elements of the upper strata of society through the nefarious designs of elite capture, play with the very fabric of the society and go against the law particularly in the domain of Anti-Corruption. This, in turn, badly affects and hampers the development of a country and also leads to absence of level playing field and equality causing sense of deprivation in society along with moral and social decay all due to mother of all crimes that is Financial Corruption. By highlighting the remedy to overcome the said ill effects of corruption, he said, a comprehensive policy document has been formulated in the shape of “NACS – National Anti-Corruption Strategy”, the document plays a key role for the working of NAB besides being a pivot depicting the vision of the leadership, commitment and resolve meant for the eradication of corruption.
DG NAB Lahore, pinpointed the importance of media by stating that Media also plays a vital role in fighting corruption and corrupt elements, as well. It is the moral responsibility of media forums that they should amplify the efforts of the national institutions in exposing the corrupt elements, said him. It is highly necessary that till the time all the stakeholders are not on board to fight, corruption can never be uprooted, reason being only national unity can fight and eradicate corruption, corruption can never be eradicated till upholding of the rule of law and practical implementation of the judicial system.
While commenting in the Seminar, Mr. Muhammad Balig-ur-Rehman expressed his thoughts that International Anti-Corruption Day is being commemorated to refresh our commitment for displaying unmatched resistance to the menace of corruption. Keeping in view the need to address this global threat, multiple measures have been designated by the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), Pakistan being the signatory of UNCAC, is determined to work with full dedication till we achieve our goal of making Pakistan a Corruption Free Country, for the purpose what we need as a nation is to stand shoulder to shoulder against corruption and all corrupt elements.
Being Governor of the Punjab, my advice for every citizen is to stand against corruption, whatever part you may play in any way to achieve this goal. It’s not the individual responsibility of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to fight corruption but the whole society is expected to join hands with NAB against corruption. I encourage my Nation to stand united and take corruption as a challenge just like we did to culminate terrorism from our motherland. He affirmed that it is high time to wage a war against corruption at the national level. He also wishes for joint efforts to make Pakistan’s economy grow better and better by every passing day.
In an independent society, the self-reliant Institutions work fearlessly to stop and control corruption from spreading. NAB is being considered as the prime Institution to challenge corruption which has been working under the dedicated chairmanship of Mr. Aftab Sultan who assumed charge as Chairman NAB on 21st July 2022. Mr. Aftab Sultan has an extensive working experience in different national level investigative Institutions.
On the eve of International anti-corruption Day, Mr. Aftab Sultan stated that 9th December is being celebrated to highlight the adverse impacts of corruption on socio-economic development across the globe. Every year, this day reminds us about the seriousness of damages that have been caused by the menace of corruption to the development of states and is still causing an imbalance in the socio-economic and socio-political conditions.
Today, the scourge of corruption and white-collar crimes have become a cause of serious concern. It is a stealthy plague that undermines rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, and erodes the quality of life. Against this backdrop, we are essentially required to intensify our efforts more rigorously to minimize corruption and ultimately bring it to nought.
NAB has been operating under NAO-1999 to challenge the threat of corruption. It is a privilege to mention that the National Accountability Bureau has been consistently engaging all stakeholders in its fight against corruption to uproot this evil from society. Similarly, expectations from a single organization to do the job on its own without simultaneous changes in the governance and active support of the public would be unrealistic.
NAB is absolutely determined to eradicate corruption from Pakistan through its holistic approach of awareness, prevention and enforcement as it’s an intricate social phenomenon, which cannot be fought by employing a narrow singular approach of enforcement as it would fail to yield long-lasting results. The Bureau has prescribed a maximum limit of 10 months for the expeditious disposal of white-collar crime cases.
Due to an effective anti-corruption strategy, NAB has recovered Rs.886.865 billion since inception, whereas, during the year 2022, the bureau received a total number of 19,917x complaints and 416x CVs. Consequently, 209x inquiries and 36x investigations have been authorized. After completing due process under the law, 29x references have been filed in the Accountability Courts. The Bureau is constantly enhancing the capability of the Forensic Science Laboratory established at NAB HQ to meet the requirements of modern investigation techniques. Moreover, a state of the Art Pakistan Anti-Corruption Academy (PACA) has been established and operationalized by NAB for capacity building of its investigators.
To mark international anti-corruption Day, NAB Lahore also held an awareness walk, outside the premises of Alhamrah Hall to mark anti-corruption Day. The participants included Governor Punjab, Muhammad Balig-ur-Rehman, DG NAB Lahore, Director (A&P) Syed Safdar Shah, Secretaries, faculty members and a large number of NAB Officers and students, so a strong message is dispersed that all communities are together against the menace of corruption.