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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Khawaja Naveed Advocates for strong and free institutions to root out corruption

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi

Noted lawyer and a former Judge of Sindh High Court Khawaja Naveed Ahmed has called for establishment of strong and free institutions to stop corruption from the society.
“All we need is having strong and free institutions and create an environment which does not allow any one to enter into corrupt practices as is in vogue in the western society”, he asserted while delivering his keynote address at the Harvard Law School Symposium in Boston, USA.

He was invited by the most reputed school to inaugurate the symposium on the topics of transitional corruption, state-sponsored espionage, extra-judicial and target killings.

He said corruption is a world-wide phenomenon and many countries like Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Syria etc faced or are facing historical downfalls mainly on account of corruption.

He said that years long dictatorial rules in many countries allowed corruption to make deeper and deeper inroads and it was unfortunate that corruption permeated deeply into our society as well.

He recalled that after 1988, in less than 10 years, Pakistan had four elections. It was like musical chair and two main political rivals came in to power one after the other but successive governments were dismissed constitutionally, primarily on the charges of corruption.

Khawaja Naveed said there is a perception that politicians invest heavily in the election process to get elected to the assemblies and to enter into corridors of power. The major reason behind this widespread corruption in my country and in some other countries by the politicians and bureaucracy is that it is difficult to control white collar crimes, therefore, the culprits invariably get away with their corruption and safely come out of scandals without any punishment.

Hardly there was any political eminence to get punishment for his frauds or scandals during the last 64 years, he stated adding that he had no hesitation in saying that if there is a will, it is not difficult to unearth the cases of corruption and the assets held by members of the ruling elite.

He said it was successfully done by Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau during the last decade but unfortunately all corruption cases detected were closed under a law called National Reconciliation Ordinance and which has since been annulled by the Supreme Court.

Naveed said there is no denying that corruption, lawlessness and other social evils exist all over the world. Even our neighboring country India is not free from corruption though they have very strong democratic system in their country and had no Marshal Law or military intervention during the last 64 years of its existence.

Referring to Transnational corruption, he described it a very wide topic and said Transparency International in its 2009 annual report described corruption as a spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an idea. In economy, corruption is payment for services or material which is not a right of the recipient under law. This may be called bribery, kick back, or `Baksheesh’ in the Middle East.

He said Transparency International described political corruption as an abuse by public power, office, or resources by elected government officials for personal gain, e.g. by extortion, soliciting or offering brides
 
This report, he pointed out, deal in detail with police corruption, systemic corruption or endemic corruption. These corruptions are due to weaknesses of an organization or process. Discretionary powers, monopolistic powers, lack of transparency, low pay, and a culture of impunity are main causes of specific acts of corruption which include bribery, extortion and embezzlement in a system where corruption becomes the rule rather than exception.
On international level, he continued, there are instances of corruption by multinational companies who develop contact with the politicians and bureaucracy of developing countries and procure big orders from their aid money or from their funds by giving kickbacks to the functionaries. This is though not permitted under international law but is still in practice and again is very difficult to detect unless regime is changed in recipient countries.
 
Regarding extra judicial killings by the law enforcing agencies including police, he said it has become a big problem the world over. One of the reasons for the extrajudicial killings is the incompetence or inability of prosecution agencies in prosecuting the most wanted criminals and getting them punished from the courts of law. The criminals are so powerful that it is difficult for the law enforcing agencies to arrest them and once they are arrested it is very difficult to procure evidence against them to get them convicted from the courts of law.

According to him the witnesses dare not to give evidence against hardened criminals for fear of their own life or family elimination. The desperate and hardened criminals kill the prosecution witnesses either before their appearance before the court or after they leave the court room. This serves as sufficient warning to other witnesses either not to appear in court or give statements hostile to prosecution.
 
He referred to a report by the Human Rights Council on extra-judicial, summary of arbitrary executions prepared by Philip Alston on 28th May 2010 and said  he has referred to the video footage which was telecast on 10th February 2010 showing police and army officers in Nigeria forcing a number of un-armed men to lie down on the ground before shooting them in the back. One of the officers could be heard asking his colleague to shoot a man in the chest rather than head, so that he can take the victims hat.
 
In the same report Mr. Alston also referred to an incident of raid by Brazilian police on 27th June 2007 wherein 19 people were killed with gun shots in the back and point blank shots. In another report dated 1st June 2010 he had visited the Democratic Republic of Congo from 5th to 15th October 2009 to investigate allegations of unlawful killings.

His investigations focused on political killings in Kinshasa and Bas Congo. This report is spread over 113 pages and covers extra judicial killings by armed forces, death imprisons, killing of human rights defenders and journalists, vigilantism and mob justice.

Similarly another report was prepared by a Panel of eminent Jurists on terrorism, counter terrorism and human rights questions in respect of enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings or executions from 2001 to 2006 in Indonesia, Jakarta. The report covers Bali bombing on October 12, 2002 that killed 202 people and injured more than 209 people.

In Afghanistan and in Pakistan, thousands of people have been killed during the last decade by suicide bombing by the terrorists and counter terrorism by the military and police.

Khawaja said very frequently complaints come regarding missing of persons and some times they are found in Gawantanamo camp. He said these are hard facts of life and he believe that panelists of this symposium  will hold comprehensive discussions on this topic and come out with some positive solutions and suggestions for the world to follow.

Speaking about state sponsored economic Espionage, he said over the past couple of decades there have been a grown number of scholarly reports regarding economic espionage and it has become an international challenge.

He said the theft of a country’s intellectual assets and proprietary information is a cause of concern and a threat to national security of the countries. Appreciating the seriousness of this threat US Congress passed the economic espionage Act 1996.

The Economic Espionage Act (EEA) took a traditional approach to the activity at issue by treating the misappropriation of propriety economic information as theft and criminalizing it. Congress believed that by prosecuting and sanctioning those who unlawfully appropriate proprietary information, others can be deterred from engaging in such conduct. Prosecution and punishment can contribute to preventing economic espionage.

The challenge of protecting intellectual and proprietary assets has been made more difficult by the arrival of the information age and the internet. Information has become a marketable commodity with an inherent value and intrinsic self-worth.

The fact that technological progress has evolved to the point where information is stored on networks, many of which are linked together by the interest, has changed the framework relating to information protection and the legal boundaries that traditionally served to constrain the dissemination of sensitive data to non authorized users.

On the occasion Khawaja Naveed narrated some of his experiences as Judge of the High Court of Sindh and threw light on the judicial system in Pakistan.

He said from his experiences he learnt that if people are trusted and dispensed justice they will love you, will never forget you and will not allow you to be let down. 

“This is my message for today. Get justice for everyone, trust people, and love them. In return, they will give you love beyond your expectation”.


Rotary’s ‘End Polio Now’ campaign illuminates Frere Hall

By Rtn Mohammad Nazakat Ali

The historic building of Frere Hall in Karachi was illuminated with great fanfare on February 17 as a part of the awareness drive launched by Rotary International’s Pakistan National Polio Plus Committee.

The Committee’s National Chair, Aziz Memon, informed the dignitaries and the media corps present on the occasion that the illumination ceremony was a part of an annual tradition in which community-based Rotary clubs illuminate landmarks and iconic structures around the world with the humanitarian group’s pledge to eradicate polio, a crippling childhood disease.

Besides the historic Frere Hall in Karachi, another famous building in Pakistan, the distinctly modern WAPDA House at Lahore will glow brightly with Rotary’s illuminated message ’End Polio Now’ on February 23.

The lighting ceremony in neighboring India is perhaps the most symbolic of the progress made by Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. In January, India, until recently an epicenter of the crippling disease, reached a historic milestone by marking a full year without recording a single new polio case.

Other illumination sites this year include the City Government Building in Taipei, Taiwan (Feb. 23-25); Melbourne’s Federation Square, one of southern Australia’s top tourist draws (Feb. 25-27); Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, Tokyo’s fifth tallest building (Feb. 20); and Pal├ício Garibaldi, a neo-classical architectural treasure in Curitiba, Brazil (Feb. 23).

Significantly, India’s success sends a message of hope across the border to Pakistan, one of the last remaining polio-endemic countries (the others are Nigeria and Afghanistan).

In 2011 Pakistan reported 198 polio cases; Afghanistan 80; Nigeria 57 and India 1. Worldwide, fewer than 650 polio cases have been confirmed for 2011, less than half the 1,352 infections reported in 2010.
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Overall, the annual number of polio cases has plummeted by more than 99 percent since the initiative was launched in 1988, when polio infected about 350,000 children a year. More than two billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing five million cases of paralysis and 250,000 deaths.

“These global illuminations carry Rotary’s pledge to end polio—saying to the world that we will fight this crippling disease to the end,” says Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee, a native of India. “But we are not there yet. Rotary and our partners will continue to immunize children until our goal of a polio-free world is achieved. And we must remain vigilant against a resurgence of this terrible disease.”

Rotary club members worldwide have contributed more than US$1 billion to polio eradication, including nearly $190,000 raised by the 3,120 members of Pakistan’s 150 Rotary clubs. Rotary International has provided almost $73 million in grants for polio eradication activities in Pakistan.

Todate, the government of Pakistan has provided nearly $50 million in domestic resources. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani have made polio eradication a national priority by launching the National Emergency Action Plan in 2011 and an Augmented Action Plan for 2012, aimed at increasing the capacity and effectiveness of the polio immunization programme with Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali having been appointed as the Focal Person of the Prime Minister’s Task Force Committee.

In January, Rotary leaders announced Rotary clubs worldwide had raised more than $200 million in response to a $355 million challenge grant from the Gates Foundation, which in turn contributed an additional $50 million in recognition of Rotary’s commitment. All of the resulting $605 million will be spent in support of immunization activities in Pakistan and other polio-affected countries.

“Rotary continues to be the heart-and-soul of polio eradication,” Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates wrote in his annual letter issued in January.

The other spearheading partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rotary is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service. Rotary’s top priority is the global eradication of polio.