ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday rejected as “biased” and “planted” the Transparency Interna­tional report that ranked Pakistan 120 out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2019.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government questioned the credibility of the TI and said its report was “misused” by some political parties which wanted to hide behind it to conceal their own corruption.

On the other hand, opposition parties asked the government not to vent anger on them over exposure of its corruption by the TI.

Pakistan slipped three spots on the CPI 2019 from the previous year’s place despite increased anti-corruption efforts. Last year, the country ranked 117 out of 180 nations.

“We categorically rejected planted report of Transparency International which was prepared at the behest of ‘corruption kings’ in Pakistan,” Spe­cial Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said at a press conference.

PPP says even PTI ministers and leaders are levelling allegations of corruption against party’s federal, provincial governments

“Corruption kings are using this report as a tool to hide their sins, but they will be disappointed. Moody’s and other international agencies have not only recognised an improvement in the country’s economic indicators but have also appreciated the efforts being made by the government,” she added.

Ms Awan said there was a huge question mark on the transparency and credibility of the TI and it was necessary to expose the people behind it as well as the data on the basis of which the report was published. “Representa­tives of the TI should come to the fore and explain on what basis the report was prepared,” she added.

Pointing a finger at a representative of the TI, Ms Awan said he was one of the “cronies” of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz as during the last PML-N government he was made an ambassador, but the present government did not extend his tenure. “It is our fault that we did not extend the tenure of the head of TI’s Pakistan chapter and he retired after the expiry of his term,” she added.

“We think this is a managed report and the PTI has never issued such reports by ‘managing’ people,” she said.

“The report says the most amount of corruption was done during the government of Gen Pervez Musharraf, followed by Imran Khan’s government and then by [that of] the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), placing the PML-N government at the very bottom,” she added.

The SAPM said giving a clean chit to the “corruption kings” who are currently under trial in the country’s courts made it evident that the report was neither fair nor transparent. Those who had fled the country were trying to spread ill will among the people the prime minister had chosen to lead the fight against corruption, she added.

She said Prime Minister Khan was adamant that the mandate given to him by the people would be honoured and he would keep on working to provide them a country free of corruption.

About the prime minister’s recent visit to Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum, she said Mr Khan’s meetings with global leaders and tech firms and their willingness to invest in Pakistan showed that the world had decided to walk shoulder to shoulder with the country. “The world recognises the credibility of the current government. Such reports will not succeed in deceiving the world,” she added.

“Instead of highlighting TI’s report, the ‘corruption kings’ should inform the people about Nawaz Sharif’s platelet count.”

Calling out Dr Adnan Khan [Nawaz Sharif’s personal physician], she said: “He used to inform us about Nawaz’s platelet count every two hours, four hours. Now, when they are in a country with the best and latest healthcare facilities, there is radio silence.”

SAPM on Accountability Shahzad Akbar said in a private TV channel that not only Pakistan but many other countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States were also downgraded by the TI on its CPI 2019.

On the other hand, PPP central deputy information secretary Palwasha Khan said that instead of venting anger on the opposition, the government should be “ashamed of itself” on the TI report. She said that even ministers and leaders of the ruling party were levelling allegations of corruption against the PTI governments at the Center and in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “If their own leaders are calling chief ministers of Punjab and KP as puppets, it means that corruption is being done through Banigala [an area in Islamabad where palatial house of Imran Khan is located],” she added.

“The job of Firdous Ashiq Awan is about to be over and, therefore, she should take a sewing machine from Aleema Khan [Imran Khan’s sister] so that she could continue earning,” the PPP leader added.

On Thursday, major opposition parties had termed the TI report a “charge-sheet” against the PTI government, saying the report had “badly exposed” Imran Khan’s claims about his government’s actions against corruption.

“The TI report is a certificate of failure of the Naya Pakistan project,” PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb had said in a statement, adding that the report had confirmed that the level and amount of corruption committed by Imran Khan’s government over the past 16 months was more than that of any government in the entire past decade.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2020