Opposition, treasury trade corruption charges in Senate

Published January 26, 2022
This combination photo shows Minister of State for Parliamen­tary Aff­airs Ali Mohammad Khan (L) and PPP Senator Sherry Rehman speaking in the Senate session on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
This combination photo shows Minister of State for Parliamen­tary Aff­airs Ali Mohammad Khan (L) and PPP Senator Sherry Rehman speaking in the Senate session on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Senators belonging to the opposition and treasury benches on Tuesday traded allegations of massive corruption, with the opposition chiding the government over Pakistan’s worst score on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and the latter shaming the former over offshore assets of their key leaders.

Speaking on a call-attention notice on the growing trade deficit, PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman took the government to task over the slippage of Pakistan on the CPI by 16 places in just one year.

“The PTI ran its entire election campaign and post-election narrative on a single-issue promise: to end corruption in Pakistan. Despite the media frenzy of ‘tabdeeli’, it has become obvious that even on its favourite beaten dead horse of an issue the government has not just failed disastrously but also exposed Pakistan and itself to a shameful verdict of its own burgeoning corruption by its own yardstick of Transparency International surveys. When we used to question some of the local findings of this organisation, Imran Khan would cite it as a holy grail in bashing the opposition,” she said.

Government slammed over Pakistan’s score on Transparency International’s corruption index

Senator Rehman said Imran Khan’s single-point agenda in government had been corruption, to arrest and derail the entire opposition. Instead of clamping down on the real corruption taking flight in Pakistan with impunity, the ruling PTI has put itself in an untenable corner where under its government Pakistan has been ranked 140 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s CPI of 2021.

“According to the yardstick of the TI which was embraced by the PTI, in 2020 Pakistan stood at 124 but in 2021 our position worsened by 16 spots to 140. In 2017, Pakistan was at 117 in this index and since then we have fallen by 23 spots. If this is the transparent and anti-corruption government, where has Pakistan’s corruption profile reached in three years?” she asked.

“Those who called the opposition thieves and robbers have also seen the unceremonious exit of their accountability czar for failing to prove corruption against opponents. Instead they have drowned Pakistan in bills and dubious plea bargains and almost insurmountable debt.

“It is obvious now that NAB and accountability narrative were misused by the government to target opposition parties while cronies of the government ran amok with the country’s assets and mismanagement. The collapse of their narrative by their own value-judgement tool, the CPI, is the last nail in the coffin of the government’s narrative of accountability and transparency,” Senator Rehman said.

She said prices of commodities were soaring due to mafias’ impunity and illicit activities and this “tabahi sarkar has done nothing to improve the situation in the country”. She said the country’s trade deficit had reached a massive $24.787 billion during the first six months of the current financial year.

The PPP senator said a dangerously high trade deficit had led to the unprecedented devaluation of the rupee against the dollar and posed a serious threat to the state of economy and placed inflationary pressure on Pakistanis.

“There is a strong interplay between trade deficit, currency valuation and balance of payments that this government fails to understand nor do the individuals who made false promises of a thriving Pakistani economy even show up to Senate sessions to find an inclusive way forward. The country is in a critical economic situation — whether it’s trade deficit or unsurmountable inflation,” she added.

She said the government had failed on every single one of its promises and left the country and its people in serious perils with long-term consequences for sustainability and sovereignty.

PML parliamentary leader in the Senate Azam Nazir Tarar castigated the PTI-led government for Pakistan’s slipping down to 140th from 124th position on the CPI and said its claims of progress, justice and transparency stood exposed now. He said the alarming increase in institutional corruption in Pakistan needed to be debated in parliament.

Minister of State for Parliamen­tary Aff­airs Ali Mohammad Khan, in his response to the call-attention notice, said it was strange that those having Swiss bank accounts and named in the Panama Papers were giving lectures on corruption to the government.

He said those whose political salvage was based on a Qatari letter, those who failed to provide money trail and those who appeared before the Supreme Court to term their statement made in the National Assembly political had no face to hurl allegations of corruption.

Mr Khan said there were just $9bn foreign exchange reserves when the PTI came into power, but today these had gone up to $19.5bn. He said the country’s exports during PML-N’s days in power were around two billion dollars a month and now these had surged to three billion dollars a month.

He said a growth rate of 5.37 per cent had been recorded at a time when the global economies were shrinking due to the challenge posed by Covid-19 and expressed the confidence that inflationary pressure would subside over the next three to four months as a result of the government’s prudent economic policies.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2022

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