Chairman NAB ADDRESS AT SAARC ANTI-CORRUPTION CONFERENCE

In his welcome address, Mr. Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, Chairman NAB Said Pakistan was ready to engage at regional level in its efforts in combating corruption. He expressed confidence that the two-day first ever seminar on Anti-Corruption attended by SAARC countries including India would initiate a process in consolidating joint efforts to root out corruption from the region.

"Sharing experiences, expertise and tools with the SAARC member states will supplement the overall agenda of betterment of peoples of this region," he said. During the two-day deliberations, the Chairman NAB said, Pakistan would propose creation of a "SAARC Anti-Corruption Forum" aimed at providing an institutional framework for taking these efforts further. He said organizing seminar was an effort to formulate a collective regional response against corruption on SAARC platform.

Qamar Zaman Ch. said presence of heads and delegates of Anti-corruption agencies from SAARC member states in seminar has endorsed the commitment of their countries to work jointly towards ultimate goal of corruption-free South Asia. He said the seminar would be able to prepare an outcome that would add to existing anti-corruption efforts at Regional level also, adding that "This will indeed complement the agenda of upcoming 19th SAARC Summit to be held on November 9 and 10 this year in Islamabad."

The Chairman said the SAARC countries needed to synergize their individual efforts against corruption to achieve goal of a corruption free South Asia and change it into a region of development and prosperity. Pakistan, he said, had over the years adopted a comprehensive policy for anti-corruption measures, adding the role of NAB at national level was central. With its jurisdiction spread all over the country, he said, NAB was mandated to take cognizance of corruption and corrupt practices and take effective measures to recover the looted public money.

The Chairman said the NAB, under its three-pronged strategy of awareness, prevention of corruption and corrupt practices and enforcement, had successfully wrestled with this monster and remained successful in creating deterrence against corruption in society.

He said Pakistan had improved its position amongst the international community, in terms of eradication of corruption and as per CPI of Transparency International (Berlin) for year 2014; Pakistan got the best position ever since the first CPI for year 2015 from 126 to 117 position.

This, he said, helped boost confidence of NAB that its efforts along with other government policies were bearing fruits and reinforces the Bureau's resolve to work even harder. "We are indeed strengthened in our efforts," he added. Since its inception, he said, the NAB had recovered a total amount of Rs 278.5 billion (US $ 2.78 billion) of looted national money from corrupt and deposited in the national exchequer which is a record achievement.

He said there was a provision in National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) that provided for recovery of such money either by voluntary return or plea bargain. "Sharing performance of the NAB, the Chairman said, it had processed more than 0.3 million complaints which further matured into 6,000 inquiries during the same period. He said the inquiries had been disposed of by converting them into investigation and further sending them to courts are references, adding that the NAB had emerged as credible, effective and dynamic anti-corruption organization, creating an enabling environment for a corruption free society.

Commissioner Anti-Corruption Commission of Nepal, Dr Ganesh RajJoshi, on behalf of the SAARC member states, appreciated efforts of NAB in holding the seminar and evolving a joint strategy to uproot corruption from South Asian region. He endorsed proposal to establish the SAARC Anti-Corruption Forum to get rid of the monster, declaring it 'need of the hour.'

He said the proposed Forum would help purge the region of corruption and corrupt practices, and usher a new era of prosperity and development in South Asia. Later, Qamar Zaman Chaudhry presented a memento to Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid.

Source: National Accountability Bureau