09/25/2009, 00.00
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Pakistan among most corrupt nations in the world

by Fareed Khan
The South Asian nation is 101 on a list of 130. Corruption deprives the state of US$ 1.8 billion. A 2007 ordinance issued by then President Musharraf gave politicians and military immunity, including the late Benazir Bhutto and the current president.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Pakistan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, a survey by Transparency International (TI) found. The group’s Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009 ranked Pakistan 101 on a list of 130 countries. For survey respondents, corruption comes second only to government instability as the top problem requiring urgent attention.

For TI, the lack of anti-graft laws has the potential of driving investors and donors away. Its figures show that bribes and financial manipulations cost the state 150 billion rupees (US$ 1.8 billion).

Just yesterday, the US Senate voted to triple non-military aid to Pakistan to roughly US 1.5 billion per year through 2014 in a bid to build trust and co-operation with a key ally against extremism.

For some in Pakistan, the release of the TI report was an unfriendly gesture. Fouzia Wahab (pictured), from the central information secretariat of the Pakistan people’s Party (PPP), defends the work of the various federal departments involved in the fight against corruption.

However, according to the TI, in 2007 during the Musharraf presidency, a major change took place. Just 56 days after Pakistan ratified the UN Convention against Corruption, President Musharraf issued the National Reconciliation Ordinance that wiped the slate clean, guaranteeing immunity to politicians and military accused of corruption.

The late Benazir Bhutto and her husband, current Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, were among the beneficiaries.

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