International corruption report lauds Indian SC, slams Pak army

An independent group has praised Indian Supreme Court for its efforts to fight corruption in government and political life but strongly criticised the Pakistani military for perpetuating corruption and flouting law for “grabbing land and companies” for its officers.

“The Supreme Court takes corruption seriously in both the general and political domains. Political corruption is not confined to monetary considerations but extends to making false promises to secure votes, helping colleagues, conflicts of interest and manipulating law to help interested parties,” the report by Transparency International (TI) says.

The apex court also brings the issue of corruption into its judgments, it says.

It particularly refers to more than 300 laws placed in the “ninth schedule” to grant immunity from being tested in the courts. But the Supreme Court, it says approvingly, did away with immunity by observing that since the basic structure of the Constitution includes some of the fundamental rights, any law granted ninth schedule deserves to be tested against these principles.

Referring to Pakistan, the report says that the share military controls was a “carefully guarded secret” until July last year when Ayesha Siddiqa, a civil servant who worked in defence accounting, published her book.

According to her, full generals enjoy individual wealth of USD 8.3 million and President Pervez Musharraf has “converted USD 690,000 of army granted farmland into USD 10.3 million moveable assets,” it says and accuses military of “grabbing” land and companies.

Pointing out the military has held power for most of the 60 years of the Pakistan’s existence, it says it is not surprising that arms procurement has provided a flourishing channel for corruption as “it also has in India and Sri Lanka.” But the report on global corruption says what is less well-known is the “inroads” made by the military into “civilian” sectors of Pakistan’s economy, including land, construction, property, manufacture, fertilizers, manufacture, road-building, health, education, insurance and banking.

The Pakistani military’s interest in civilian sectors, the report says, are held by charitable foundations set up in the colonial era to look after the retired members of the armed forces, particularly the officers’ class.

The wealthiest, it says, is the Fauji Foundation (FF) the country’s largest corporation with a turnover of USD 500 million in 2001 as well as the country’s largest landowner.

Askari Bank, owned by the Army Welfare Trust, is the country’s most successful bank and the trust also has interests in farming, milling, insurance and retail, it says.

The Shaheen Foundation, run by Air Force, specializes in aviation-related services including owning the country’s second largest airline, Shaheen Air, aviation maintenance and in-flight catering, it says.

Besides, the Foundation also has interest in commercial property, television and radio, and computer technology and National Logistic Cell, the army’s transport fleet, enjoys a near monopoly on all large haulage contracts, it adds.

The army also houses “defence colonies” which provide officers with prime housing at “peppercorn” prices and acquires farmland for cultivation by ex-servicemen,” it says.

“Since President Pervez Musharraf came to power by coup in 1999, the military has extended its economic reach through appointment of 92 senior officers to key posts in public sector, diplomatic service and leading utilities, providing further scope for illegal enrichment,” the report says.

“So much has been grabbed by the military that it will take years to just catalogue it,” the report quotes Lord Patten, former European Union Commissioner for external relations, as writing in 2006.

Courtesy :- Yahoo

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