ISLAMABAD: The head of India’s anti-corruption body arrived here on Sunday to attend a conference of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc). The two-day meeting will begin on Monday.

Shri Premanshu Biswas, Director General of India’s Central Vigilance Commission, was received at the airport by officials of the National Accountability Bureau, the host of the first Saarc conference on anti-corruption measures.

“The delegates of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives have arrived in Pakistan,” a NAB spokesman told Dawn.

NAB chief hints at setting up ‘Saarc nations anti-corruption forum’

The Maldives is being represented at the conference by Hassan Lutfi, the head of its anti-corruption commission, Nepal by Ganesh Raj Joshi, the chief of its commission on abuse of authority, Sri Lanka by T.B. Weerasuriya, who heads its anti-graft commission, and Bhutan by its Anti-Corruption Commi­ssion Chairperson Kiney Yangzom.

The participation by India is significant against the backdrop of growing tension with Pakistan following a terrorist attack on an Indian military camp in Uri as well as the atrocities being committed by the Indian armed forces in held Kashmir.

Indian media earlier reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not attend the Saarc summit being held in Pakistan in November because of the situation in the Valley.

Meanwhile, NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry said that in order to strengthen cooperation and assistance among the Saarc states in the fight against corruption, it had been decided to set up a “Saarc nations anti-corruption forum”.

He said the conference would discuss causes of corruption in South Asia, exchange of experiences and steps to be taken by member states to curb the menace and create awareness among their peoples about effects of corruption.

The event will provide an opportunity to Saarc states to work together to fight corruption, which is one of the major hurdles in the way of progress and prosperity of the region.

The NAB chief said the participants would also discuss enforcement strategy (investigation) and prosecution, international cooperation, assets recovery, technical assistance and information sharing in order to formulate a joint strategy on the basis of best practices and lessons learnt to fight corruption.

Published in Dawn September 26th, 2016