KP assembly to take up 2 bills on graft, misuse of taxpayers money: Imran

Source: Published in Current Affairs on Thursday, April 7, 2016

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, who appears to be elated at the Panama leaks about his political opponents, has said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has tabled two bills to curb corruption and misuse of taxpayers’ money by public representatives for their personal benefit.

The moment he sat down for a press conference at the Chief Minister House here on Wednesday, Mr Khan spoke of the Panama leaks and seemed keen to know more names and disclosures in near future. He said the leaks would affect the future of the country.

“It is not just tax evasion if the head of a country doesn’t tell about his assets and doesn’t declare them. It is corruption,” he said. The PML-N government’s decision to constitute a judicial commission, headed by a retired judge, to investigate the offshore companies owned by members of the Sharif family was nothing more than hoodwinking people, the PTI chief observed.

He said the Indian prime minister, whose name was not in the Panama Papers, had set up a high-powered committee to investigate the matter and submit its report by April 25, but Pakistan had only set up a commission. “So look at the way the issue is being treated by the two countries,” Mr Khan said.

He said he felt that now there was no need to hold long marches or sit-ins because the prime minister, despite having all powers to prevent investigations against him, seemed helpless after the leaks. “It looks like a divine intervention.”

The PTI chief then went on to explain what his party’s government was doing in KP and mentioned amendments to the Police Act to have a depoliticised police force and the Ehtesab Commission law to set up an autonomous accountability body in the province.

“Whistleblower Bill and Conflict of Interest Bill are almost ready while proposals for a new law to set up an accountability commission free of government’s control have been finalised after consultations with legal experts,” he said, adding: “We have adopted these laws from Europe and modelled them to our conditions.”

After the passage of the Conflict of Interest Bill from the provincial assembly, Mr Khan said, no public representative would be able to misuse taxpayers’ money for his personal benefit. The Whistleblower Bill will curb white-collar crimes and corruption.

He said amendments to the Ehtesab Commission law had previously created an impression that “we are curbing the autonomy of the commission”. The commission’s roles and powers were not defined which led to a conflict and resignation of its director general. “Instead of amending the law and creating confusion, we have consulted legal experts to bring a new law,” Mr Khan said.

Under the new law, he added, the Ehtesab Commission would be a more autonomous body free of government control.

“We are also amending the Police Act to have a police force which works under a law rather than becoming a tool of the political government,” he said.

Imran Khan defended the KP government’s move to send the Domestic Violence Bill to the Council of Islamic Ideology for its opinion whether it was in accordance with the injunctions of Islam. He said it was better to develop a consensus than make the proposed law controversial, citing Punjab’s women protection law. 

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