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Posts Tagged ‘reconciliation’

PTI is up against two products of establishment: NRO gang and IJI-2 or 10 Parties Alliance: Its time for Change and Naya Pakistan

It seems establishment is afraid of seeing a mindset of change in many people of Pakistan especially educated youth. They have now resurrected their old products to fight against any possible change in status-quo.

PTI is against two products of establishment :

1- NRO gang : PPP,MQM,ANP,PMLQ,APML

2-10 Party alliance or IJI-2:http: PML-F, PML-N, Jamat e Islami, Jamiat Ulema e Islam-Fazal (JUI-F), Jamiat Ulema e Pakistan (JUP) and others.

Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) was formed by ISI in 1988 to counter PPP under Benazir Bhutto and now it seems they have again formed it to counter the rising power of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf. Leaders of JI and PML-N call it an alliance against PPP and MQM but we know PPP and MQM are already part of establishment’s other gang i.e. NRO gang launched by former dictator General (R) Musharraf.

Lets see if people can call this bluff from IJI-2 parties who are trying to hijack the momentum of change like Tahir al Qadri tried or Musharraf tried in his second failed coming. Establishment always find it easy to deal with old status-quo parties and groups like NRO gang, MMAs or IJIs but they cannot see a genuine force of change like PTI to come in power because someone like Imran Khan can neither be bought nor he can be cornered or pressurized as he doesn’t have a record full of political and financial corruption.

PML-F-led meeting of 10-party alliance not yet held

Source: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=97187

KARACHI: The meeting of Pakistan Mulsim League-F-led ten-party alliance has still not been held, Geo News reported Wed.

According to details, the parties were to reach finalize matters relating to seat adjustments for National and Provincial assemblies’ constituencies of Karachi after holding consultations.

The meeting of 10-party alliance called by PML-F was to be attended by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamat e Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema e Islam-Fazal (JUI-F), Jamiat Ulema e Pakistan (JUP) and others.

According to sources, the provincial meeting of 10-party alliance suffered a delay due to internal conflicts in PML-N.

The leader of PML-N Shahbaz Sharif is in Karachi and trying to fix conflicts between the party’s Karachi and provincial chapters in connection with distribution of tickets.

President of PML-N Karachi Nehal Hashmi had submitted his nomination papers for NA-251, while the party’s provincial leadership has made a seat adjustment for the same with JI.

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For a reminder about NRO, here are few links including names of those individuals and parties who benefited from it:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/politics/14-Nov-2009/3576-criminal-cases-against-Altaf-others-withdrawn

http://archives.dawn.com/archives/37985

https://united4justice.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/sc-issues-detailed-judgment-over-nro/

https://united4justice.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/nro-list-and-government-stance/

https://united4justice.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/finally-dreaded-nro-list-is-out-and-official-the-news/

Ex-brigadier thrashes professor over NRO brawl

February 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=27076

Students protest as investigation ordered

By Umar Cheema

ISLAMABAD: A retired brigadier, the registrar of the Army-run National University of Modern Languages (NUML), on Thursday assaulted his respected professor colleague when the latter questioned the role of General Musharraf in brokering a deal with the PPP through the NRO.

The staff room discussion on President Asif Zardari’s alleged corruption and Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s role in granting a clean chit through the NRO, infuriated Brig (retd) Obaidullah Ranjha to an extent that he started hitting Prof Tahir Malik like a punching bag, leaving the latter virtually unconscious.

The incident triggered protests by the university students, who blocked the road and chanted slogans supporting the victim professor, Tahir Malik, and demanding the removal of the brigade of brigadiers, led by Rector Brig (retd) Aziz Ahmad, and assisted by the brutal Brigadier Ranjha and Brigadier Saulat Raza.

Tension gripped the university premises with all gates closed and cellphones switched off. Brig (retd) Ranjha, instead of regretting his act, said he wouldn’t care in case an FIR was lodged and defended the use of muscle power, saying: “If somebody disgraces the Army and its institution, what should I have done?” and asked the media to write whatever they wanted, adding: “I’m not answerable to you.”

The NUML administration reacts so loudly against the people questioning the Army’s role that it has taught a lesson to two civilian teachers in the short span of two weeks. The university’s journalism department, headed by Brig (retd) Saulat Raza, an ISPR veteran, recently sacked a journalist, Azaz Syed, who was in the department’s visiting faculty, after he did stories for his newspaper critical to the Army and the ISI.

The NUML is fast gaining notoriety as the recent audit report exposed rampant corruption with the auditor caught the rector and the university’s senior staffers committing different irregularities, obliging their near and dear ones, and fleecing money in the name of watchmen. The tension between the academic staff with civilian background and military background is growing by the day, making the situation worse.

As far the unfortunate thrashing incident is concerned, it occurred in the International Relations Department where Brig (retd) Ranjha was invited to attend a reception ceremony of the students where a discussion on the political situation started. As Ranjha criticised President Asif Zardari and lamented the country was being run by incompetent politicians, Professor Tahir Malik intervened, questioning why Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf brokered the deal with the PPP.

Tahir Malik, who is the son of the rector of the Islamic International University, said the politicians were always hounded and one should respect the mandate the public gave to them.

Brig (retd) Ranjha, whose appointment has also been criticised and declared illegal in the recent audit report, had also to face criticism on this count. “You have been appointed registrar without any advertisement. You don’t qualify for the position for not having the required academic experience of 15 years. You should set your house in order before pointing fingers towards the politicians. One should preach what one practices,” Tahir bluntly said, addressing Brig (retd) Ranjha.

Facing humiliation of his person and the criticism of the military’s top brass role in political bickering, in the presence of a TV journalist, sank Ranjha into chair, his shoulders drooped. But he took no time to stand up and leave the place, only to return within 45 minutes. As Ranjha arrived again, he took Tahir Malik along, saying some urgent business was to be discussed. As they walked away from the staff room, Ranjha started hurling abuses, hitting Malik on the face, kicking him on the upper part of the legs. But doing all this could not alleviate his anger. He then struck in his chest with head like a goat. Malik, who is a heart patient, fell on the ground.

In the meantime, the staff and students of the IR Department rushed to the spot, liberating Malik from the clutches of Brig (retd) Ranjha, eyewitnesses said. Dr Sohail Ahmad, head of the IR Department, who was an eyewitness, told The News he had witnessed this unfortunate incident. “Tahir is my faculty member and he was a clear victim,” he said. “We’ve demanded justice as the matter is now in the hands of the rector.”

The rector, when contacted, appeared to be very calm. Instead of going into the details of the incident and who the aggressor or victim was, he said an investigation into the incident is under way.

As far as the sacking of a journalist teaching in the NUML’s Journalism Department is concerned, it is yet another case in point of how the Army-run institution demonstrated intolerance towards freedom of expression. Azaz Syed, an investigative journalist, first had his house attacked on January 19, a week after a premier intelligence agency warned him against writing about its chief. Some days after this incident, Brig (retd) Saulat conveyed to the journalist not to come to the university for he had annoyed the institution of the Army, Azaz told The News.

Later, he was asked through the clerical staff of the department not to come till further orders. The students protested on the sacking of Azaz. Brig (retd) Saulat told the students that he could not bring him back because his own job would be in danger in that case, a student who gave audience to Saulat, later told The News. However, Saulat, when contacted for his version, denied anything like this had happened.

Detailed Judgment Issued Over NRO

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

NRO Detailed Judgment has been issued by Supreme Court of Pakistan. Previously on 16 December 2009, SC 17 member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary issued a short order which nullified the draconian law.

The 287 detailed judgment is written by CJP Ifikhar Chaudhary.

The judgment can be downloaded from:

http://www.supremecourt.gov.pk/web/user_files/File/NROJudgment.pdf

For once we need to go for across the board accountability without becoming a prey of illusions created by the players of National Security Card, Democracy Card, Shaheed Card, Ethnic Card, Sectarian or any other Card.

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SC issues detailed Judgment in NRO case

Source: http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=94497&Itemid=2

ISLAMABAD, Jan 19 (APP): Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday issued a detailed judgement in National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case.The Supreme Court issued detailed judgment in Constitution Petitions numbers 76 to 80 of 2007, Constitution Petition 59 of 2009 (on appeal from the order dated 15-01-2009 passed by High Court of Sindh at Karachi in Constitution Petition No. 355 of 2008) and HRC Nos.
14328-P to 14331-P and 15082-P of 2009 regarding the NRO.
The petitions were heard by 17-Member Larger Bench headed by Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of Pakistan and consisting of other Judges namely Mr. Justice Javed Iqbal, Mr.  Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, Mr. Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, Mr. Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Mr. Justice Tassadduq Hussain Jillani, Mr. Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, Mr. Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed, Mr. Justice Ch. Ijaz Ahmed, Mr. Justice Muhammad Sair Ali, Mr. Justice Mahmood Akhtar Shahid Siddiqui, Mr. Justice S. Khawaja, Mr. Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Mr. Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Mr.Justice Rahmat Husain Jafferi, Mr. Justice Tariq Parvez and Mr. Justice Ghulam Rabbani.
The Judgment has been authored by the Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of Pakistan. The judgment was circulated to all Judges of the Bench, signed by Mr. Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday on 12-01-2010.
It has been signed by all remaining Judges of the Bench.  The judgment has unanimously been signed by all the Judges and having signed detailed judgment the three Judges namely Mr. Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, Mr. Justice Ch. Ijaz Ahmed and Mr. Justice Jawwad S. Khwaja have also added supporting notes.

We need to go for across the board accountability without becoming a prey of illusions

December 23, 2009 1 comment

After the remarkable of 17 member honorable bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan. Some players of democracy card join by some opportunists are playing Democracy Card and Ethnic Card.

NRO case was in pending before emergency SC just gave a ruling on that . Most of the criticism is based on speculation and this is being done either deliberately or due to ignorance of the facts.

Some points to think for people who are due to ignorance falling into this propaganda:

-Yes,Musharraf needs to be trialed but who is going to invoke article 6. SC has provided solid grounds for that in 31st July 2009 judgment.

-SC has now called for the list of loan-settlements beneficiaries from banks and it will involve all.

-Karachi and Lahore land mafia cases are being opened.

-Recently Karachi City Government’s acres of land is taken back from Army control by SC.

-PPP has a great chance to bring the khakis to justice as well if they come out of the deals they have made.

-Missing persons case is reopened including Dr. Aafia case and the delay is being done by agencies and so called democratic government.

-Bugti case has been registered and in the courts.

And their numerous other good things which are happening .

Establishment is playing games and they will not stop this but it doesn’t mean we start falling into their trap.

Only thing which will stop them for another MERAI AZIZ HAM WATNON or something similar (which is being planned) is a strong judiciary and a good way to keep judiciary out the equation is to destroy its reputation.

Weaknesses are there and if any one has a problem with any judgment then why don’t they challenge it in the court or at least they should have defended it properly in the court if the whole drama is for NRO .

The criticism over creating a team of judges to supervise accountability cases is baseless as their are examples of similar for terrorism cases but no one criticize that. It’s the job of superior judiciary to see what is happening in lower courts. Another thing it will do is to ensure the proper trial without any delays like it has been the practice which was also criticized by many.

The other thing which is being propagated is why only Swiss cases are opened?

This is not the true picture Swiss cases were especially mentioned because it involves international courts otherwise the judgment says to open all the cases.

We need to slowly move towards a system of social-economic justice without losing our track.

These plutocrats (not democrats) are playing democracy card and ethnic card like khakis play national security card.

For once we need to go for across the board accountability without becoming a prey of illusions created by the players of National Security Card, Democracy Card, Shaheed Card, Ethnic Card, Sectarian or any other Card.

Pakistan Feudal Party Imposing Feudal Law In Pakistan

November 2, 2009 1 comment

If you have killed hundreds of people, involved in billions of rupees corruption or involved in any major or minor crime you just need to become a part of a filthy ruling cult and you will get indemnity from all you have done and will do in future.

That’s what this so called National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) is.
NRO, a draconian law which was introduced by a dictator who twice abrogated the constitution and committed high treason.

The sole purpose for this law was to ensure power sharing between new imperialist pets of Pakistan Feudal Party (so called Pakistan Peoples Party,PPP) and American pet dictator Musharraf and in case if Musharraf has to leave the stage then the NRO deal will convert into NRO-Safe Exit deal.

In this turbulence time of our self grown crises with the assistance of dollar masters our country will further go into trouble as this draconian law will destroy the already weakened concepts of justice and equality within our society.

This will allow the ruling elite to do more loot and plunder of our nation and go scot-free.

The cabinet of so called democratic government and standing committee of so called law and justice has approved it and now the government has planned to put it in front of the parliament.

A new game of numbers, image building, bargaining and hypocrisy will start and Allah knows what will come out of it as a result.

Imran Khan has already shown his intention that if NRO gets approved from parliament then he is going to challenge it in Supreme Court which has already shown signs of giving a judicial review in case they find it against the spirit of our constitution and human rights (which you can easily judge it is).

Aitzaz Ahsan, former SCBA president and senior but sidelined member of PPP has also said that SC has the right to review and reject NRO if it finds against the basic human rights.

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Imran criticises NRO, govt’s US policy–>TheNation

November 1, 2009 1 comment

ISLAMABAD – Chairman Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan said Friday that the incumbent rulers were beneficiaries of the NRO, adding that the nation was waiting for the Parliament’s decision on the ordinance.
While talking to media persons after a discussion forum over the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) organized by PTI’s Womens Wing, Khan said that the Ordinance was promulgated to protect those who looted national wealth and committed crimes against the nation. He also announced that he would challenge the ordinance in the Supreme Court.
Khan also said that he could not understand the politics of PML-N, saying even the media could not understand the same. He also said that it was not the PML-N but the people of the country who got the judiciary reinstated.
The PTI Chief opposed the ongoing operation in South Waziristan Agency, and said that the security situation had further deteriorated after each military operation. He stressed for differentiating between the good and bad Taliban, saying how could Pakistan not talk to the Taliban when the US government was allocating funds for them.
Khan said that the February 18, 2008 elections gave birth to a slavish government that was destroying the country to secure dollars from USA. “How can it be our own war when the US government is funding its expenditures”, he questioned. He further said that the Army should not fight against our own people but the government should opt for a political solution of the problem. “Tribal people who once fought shoulder to shoulder with the Army are now combating our own troops”, Khan regretted.

Khan also quoted former Governor NWFP as saying that the US always sabotaged Pakistan’s bid to bring peace through dialogue in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He said he never denied the presence of extremists and militants in Pakistan but he always objected the way government dealt with the issue. He also said that he was not against any nation but opposed policies of certain Western governments.
In response to a query, the PTI Chief said that the NRO protected looters and dacoits, adding that people would come out one day on the streets to hold the rulers accountable for their money.
Chairperson PTI Women Wing Fozia Qasuri also spoke on the occasion. She said that PTI would come in power through welfare work and that politics was not left only to thieves and dacoits. She said that the incumbent government had added to the problems of the people.

Source:http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/31-Oct-2009/Imran-criticises-NRO-govts-US-policy/1

Transparency indicts Pakistan at critical time

September 24, 2009 1 comment

By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: In an obvious rebuke to President Asif Zardari’s efforts to seek massive aid from the world community, the global anti-corruption watchdog, the Transparency International, issued a stinging indictment on the eve of a high-profile New York meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan, saying: “How can one expect from any donor to come forward to assist Pakistan from its current financial crisis, when there exist no law against corruption.”

President Zardari is to meet US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other world leaders at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting in New York on Thursday but in its 2009 Global Corruption Report, released on Wednesday, Transparency International portrays Pakistan amongst the most corrupt nations in the world.

Releasing the annual report, the TI chief in Pakistan Adeel Gilani said anti-corruption efforts in the country had taken a 180 degree turn since Gen Pervez Musharraf issued the National Reconciliation Ordinance on October 5, 2007, 56 days after the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption.

The timing for the release of the TI report would be embarrassing for President Zardari, whose government’s credibility is already seriously questioned internationally because of President’s own as well as many of his government’s key players’ past plagued by serious corruption charges.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin tried to soften the impact of the TI report by saying in his talks with US officials in New York, the US side had assured that most of the aid to Pakistan will be channelled through the federal government, although it is still not clear whether the US Congress will approve this.

A press release issued in Islamabad and New York, Syed Adeel Gilani, Chairman TI Pakistan, said the NRO has also granted further protection to the parliamentarians, as no sitting member of parliament or a provincial assembly can be arrested without taking into consideration the recommendations of the special parliamentary committees on ethics, which are not formed yet.

Gilani said over and above the NRO, the aims of the present government which has sent serious signals all over the world is that in Pakistan corruption will not be a crime if no accountability is held for three years. “The Draft Holder of Public Office Act 2009 prepared by the government to substitute the NAB Ordinance, under consideration of the National Assembly, gives further immunity to all against corruption from October 2010,” the report said, wondering, “How can one expect that any donor to come forward to assist Pakistan from its current financial crisis when there exist no law against corruption.”

The report said corruption is a serious problem in Pakistan, and this position is corroborated by a number of recent studies and reports. An assessment of Pakistan’s infrastructure implementation capacity was carried out at the request of the government, and the resulting report was published in November 2007 jointly by the World Bank and the planning Commission of Pakistan.

It states that approximately 15 per cent of the cost of corruption lies in procurement, costing the Pakistani development budget (2007/8) over Rs150 billion. Furthermore, the World Bank’s Control of Corruption Indicator in 2007 ranks Pakistan a mere 21.3 out of 100. The Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009 ranked Pakistan 101st out of 130 countries and found that respondents pointed to corruption as the second most problematic factor for doing business in the country, after government instability.

The instability of the political situation in Pakistan cannot be underestimated as a factor in permitting corruption in the private sector to flourish. Despite Musharraf’s claim to be committed to fighting corruption, little headway has been made, and it is still considered to be ‘pervasive and deeply entrenched’.

Musharraf relinquished military power in November 2007, and his supporters were defeated in the February 2008 general election by a coalition of the Pakistan People’s Party and Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League. Musharraf resigned in August 2008, facing impeachment for alleged crimes including gross misconduct and violation of the Constitution, it said.

The following is the Pakistan Chapter of the Global Report released on Sept 23: Legal and institutional changes: In a meeting with a delegation of TI Pakistan on 17 July 2007, the former prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, gave assurance that the Public Procurement Rules of 2004 would be implemented in all the federal government ministries. He also claimed that transparency was the ‘hallmark’ of government policy and that the government was promoting e-governance as a tool for more openness and in order to make processes more efficient. He claimed that the ëgovernment had made it mandatory that integrity pacts are signed for all government contracts over Rs10 million. Moreover, the adoption of the rules ëminimises discretion, gives priority to technical competence and ensures that award of contract is on the basis of lowest evaluated responsive bidder in the shortest possible timeí.

He also agreed with TI Pakistan that the Election Commission should ëhold the elections in the most transparent manner’. These commitments were undermined after the departure of the former prime minister in 2007. Under the caretaker government in 2008, complaints to the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority board were not acted upon.

The former president, General Pervez Musharraf, issued the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) on 5 October 2007, fifty-six days after the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption. In many ways this was a setback for anti-corruption measures in Pakistan, as all proceedings under investigation or pending in any court that had been initiated by or involved the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prior to 12 October 1999 were withdrawn and terminated with immediate effect. The NRO also granted further protection to parliamentarians, as no sitting member of parliament or a provincial assembly can be arrested without taking into consideration the recommendations of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Ethics or the Special Committee of the Provincial Assembly on Ethics.

Public ills, private woes — the survival of the private sector during political instability: Corruption is a serious problem in Pakistan, and this position is corroborated by a number of recent studies and reports. An assessment of Pakistanís infrastructure implementation capacity was carried out at the request of the government, and the resulting report was published in November 2007 jointly by the World Bank and the Planning Commission of Pakistan. It states that approximately 15 per cent of the cost of corruption lies in procurement, costing the Pakistani development budget (2007/8) over Rs150 billion.

Furthermore, the World Bankís Control of Corruption Indicator in 2007 ranks Pakistan a mere 21.3 out of 100. In terms of the business sector, there are a number of measures that indicate that there is a serious issue of corruption. TI’s Global Corruption Barometer 2006 reported that the impact of corruption on the private sector was perceived as almost equal to corruption in the public sector; and The Global Competitiveness Report 2008ñ2009 ranked Pakistan 101st out of 130 countries and found that respondents pointed to corruption as the second most problematic factor for doing business in the country, after government instability. The instability of the political situation in Pakistan cannot be underestimated as a factor in permitting corruption in the private sector to flourish. Despite Musharrafís claim to be committed to fighting corruption, little headway has been made, and it is still considered to be ëpervasive and deeply entrenchedí.

The inauguration of the new president, Asif Ali Zardari, on 9 September 2008 ushers in a new era, but not one without challenges. The new democratically elected government will, therefore, require the immediate enforcement of good governance and transparency standards to counter the various dire problems facing Pakistan. There is an increased threat of terrorism, hyperinflation, a reduction in the Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index, a sizeable depreciation of the currency, a substantial reduction in foreign currency reserves and a huge trade deficit inherited from the previous government.

Banking fines for cartels: the new Competition Commission: In Pakistan, monopolistic practices and cartels are perceived to hold sway in such businesses as banking, cement, sugar, automobiles, fertilisers and pharmaceuticals, to name a few. Although cartels distort market prices, they also create other anomalies. Existing players in an industry may firmly block the entry of new entrepreneurs through cartels, in order to ensure their own market dominance. This practice acts as a clear disincentive for the much-needed expansion of Pakistanís industrial base.

In October 2007 a new Competition Commission was set up under the Competition Ordinance 2007, in order to ëprovide for a legal framework to create a business environment based on healthy competition towards improving economic efficiency, developing competitiveness and protecting consumers from anti- competitive practicesí.

It was also meant to ërestrict the undue concentration of economic power, growth of unreasonable monopoly power and unreasonably restrictive trade practicesí, which are perceived to be ëinjurious to the economic well-being, growth and development of Pakistaní. In one of its first initiatives, the Competition Commission challenged the Pakistan Banks Association (PBA) on its decision to ëcollectively decide rates of profit and other terms and conditions regarding deposit accountsí. The PBA is a membership association to which only banks in Pakistan can be affiliated, and it advertised its decision openly in a daily newspaper on 5 November 2007. The terms of the agreement included a number of its member banks imposing ëa four per cent profit on Rs20,000 deposits and a Rs50 charge on less than a Rs5,000 balanceí on bank accounts included in the new Enhanced Savings Account (ESA) scheme. Furthermore, holders of basic accounts that met the criteria would have their accounts changed to ESAs without the prior instruction or agreement of the account-holders.

The Competition Commission considered this move by the PBA to be in violation of section 4 of the Competition Ordinance 2007, and, moreover, in acting as a cartel, the banks were alleged to have behaved anti-competitively. The implications of the changes included customers with balances of less than Rs5,000 having to pay Rs50 each month and the transfer of accounts without the account-holdersí prior permission.

On 24 December a ëshow-causeí was issued to the PBA and the banks, and they were asked to provide justification of their behaviour to the commission by 10 January 2008.

Both the PBA and the banks issued responses on 9 January, denying the charges of cartelisation, and on 28 February 2008 a further statement was issued, arguing that the commission did not have jurisdiction in this area and that, furthermore, the changes had been made ëat the behest of the regulator (the State Bank of Pakistan) in the larger public interestí. The PBA also argued that it could not be considered to be stifling competition as the deposit amounts affected by the ESA scheme amounted to only 2.25 per cent. The commission found later, however, that in terms of the number of account-holders affected the impact was much higher, constituting 45.12 per cent.

The final decision of the Competition Commission was made on 10 April 2008. The commission argued that the ëPBA has acted beyond its mandate…and has been instrumental in the formation of a cartelí. As a result, it had deprived small account-holders of the benefits they were otherwise earning on their savings accounts. The PBA and the culpable banks were ordered to discontinue the practice, not to repeat it and to pay considerable fines. The PBA was fined Rs30 million, and the seven banks involved were fined Rs25 million each.

The penalised institutions did have recourse to appeal to the appellate bench of the Competition Commission, but they failed to do so within the stipulated time. On 27 May the PBA did, however, appeal against the decision of the commission with the Sindh High Court, which ordered the commission not to take any action against the PBA before the decision had been adjudicated in court.

The commission appealed against the high courtís decision, and on 15 September 2008 the Supreme Court allowed the commission to proceed against the banks. The Competition Commissionís move against the banking cartel, as well as the support provided by the Supreme Court, is encouraging. It has sent the message that such practices by the private sector, including the maintenance of unreasonable power by monopolies and restrictive trade practices, will not be tolerated and that the institutions in charge of monitoring such practices have the power to act.

Privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills: Corruption in privatisation in Pakistan is endemic: manipulation of the process can be found at all stages, from the evaluation of profits and assets of a company to the provision of kickbacks on completion of a settlement.

One of the most famous cases relating to privatisation involves the attempted privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills. As Pakistanís largest and only integrated steel manufacturing plant, it is a private limited company, and 100 per cent of its equity is owned by the government. The plant is the biggest producer of steel in Pakistan and was installed in 1981, with the collaboration of Russia, by the Ministry of Industries, Production and Special Initiatives. In 1997 the government of Pakistan decided to privatise it, and, following the rules, secured approval from the Council of Common Interests.

In 1998 the privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills was abandoned, and to make it profitable the labour force was reduced from 20,000 to 15,000.

As the steel mill had been designed, constructed and fitted out entirely by the Soviet Union, in February 2003 General Musharraf visited Moscow and signed an agreement to expand the production of the plantís steel from 1.1 million to 1.5 million tonnes. By December 2004, less than two years later, the privatisation of the plant was being discussed again, and by 10 February 2005 the decision to privatise the mill was taken by the government. The corporation, assessed at Rs72 billion, was sold to a consortium for Rs21.58 billion on 24 April 2006.

On 23 June 2006, the Supreme Court ruled against the privatisation, and Chief Justice Chaudhry prevented the sale of the state monopoly to the private investors.

The Supreme Court concluded that approving the award of the contract reflected disregard for the mandatory rules, as well as the information necessary for arriving at a fair sale price. The unexplained haste of the proceedings also cast reasonable doubt on the ethics of the whole exercise. While Chief Justice Chaudhry acknowledged that it was not the function of the court to interfere with the policy-making of the executive, the privatisation of the mills was ëvitiated by acts of omissioní and violated the mandatory provisions of laws and rules. The valuation of the project and the final terms offered to the consortium were not in accord with the initial public offering given through the advertisement.

This case had implications that still resonate today, as it is considered one of the causes of the dismissal of Chief Justice Chaudhry in March 2007, who was not reinstated until July 2008.

It is, therefore, partially responsible for a great civil society movement in Pakistan, which called for the restoration of an independent judiciary. There are also unanswered questions that still need resolution. In October 2006 a case was filed against the then prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, and ten other ministers, as well as the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, alleging misuse of power ñ corruption as defined in section 9 of the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance 1999, which covers corruption and corrupt practices.

If found guilty, they would be subject to punishment, up to fourteen yearsí imprisonment, under section 10 of the ordinance for their involvement in the attempted privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills. At the time of writing this report it was yet to be seen how the NAB, under the jurisdiction of the current government, will proceed with this case.

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