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Generals, Judges and journalists must also be held accountable

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Plea to end sacred cows, address institutional corruption and stop selective use of accountability for political re-engineering.

Lahore Nov 26, 2016: Senator Farhatullah Babar has said that fundamental issues in corruption namely exempting sacred cows from accountability, turning a blind eye to institutional corruption and misusing accountability for political re-engineering have never been addressed due to which anti-corruption laws and institutions were no more than a sham and a scam.

He was speaking at a dialogue organized by the HRCP in Lahore on accountability laws and policies in Pakistan today.

He said that from independence day till the present day NAB the history of anti-corruption and accountability has been a dismal story of selectivity, sacred cows and political witch hunt.

Corruption does not mean financial corruption only he said. Misuse of authority, favoritisms and monopolization of opportunities are also corruption will the Kargil misadventure, sheltering OBL and nuclear proliferation be ever investigated in real earnest and the culprits and misadventurers brought to book he asked.

The issue of institutional corruption is not even understood let alone addressed he said. He raised questions about the allotment of land for defence purposes which were subsequently used for other purposes and all past irregularities  condoned with a stroke of the pen through an executive order, without investigation, without accountability.

It is also a societal issue and no matter what laws are made corruption will not end totally.  It is also  an issue of educating the people and inculcating values.

The fight against corruption will not succeed unless it is across the board and no sacred cows. Why the judges, generals and journalists cannot be held accountable through the same accountability mechanisms that investigate politians and bureaucrats, he asked? Who will guard the guards and pass judgment on those judging others for corruption he asked? The argument that some institutions have their own accountability mechanisms is sham, it has not arouse any credibility and is widely perceived as escape from accountability.

The single most effective remedy against corruption is transparency and the tearing apart of the shroud of secrecy.

But it is possible only through right to information legislation but the RTI law despite having been endorsed by Senate Committee on Information two years ago is elusive. Instead the government decided to bring in a new law that is against the principles of maximum disclosure and minimum exemptions.

He said that the Charter of Democracy (COD) stated that politically motivated NAB will be abolished and replaced by an Independent accountability Commission.  The media will have freedom of access to information regulated by law.

The CoD said that all military and judicial officers will be required to file annual assets and income declarations like Parliamentarians to make them accountable to public.

The COD also envisaged to set up T& RC to acknowledge victims of torture, imprisonment, state sponsored persecution, targeted legislation and politically motivated accountability. These provisions need to be implemented he said.

The seminar was also addressed by I A Rehman secretary general HRCP, Tariq Khosa former DG FIA, former AG Salman Raja and others.

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