Corruption breeding terrorism, violence

LAHORE, Feb 27: Corruption is the main cause of terrorism and violence being witnessed by the country and today we declare a crusade against the menace, Human Rights Society of Pakistan president Senator SM Zafar declared here on Sunday.

He was addressing the 30th human rights awards ceremony held by the Society at a local hotel.

Four awards for 2010 were given to as many eminent persons for their human rights activities and struggle for `amelioration of the condition of the people of Pakistan`. Those who were given awards are; Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, Mr Justice K M Samdani (retired), Senator and journalist Syed Fasih Iqbal and special education expert and chairperson of “SAHIL”, an NGO, Dr Maneezay Bano.

Mr Zafar said Pakistan was passing through the worst phase of lawlessness and violence these days. The increasing incidence of terrorism, target killing, extra judicial killing, dacoities, murders, abduction for ransom and investigations had made the lives of the people miserable. A careful study of the entire situation would reveal that the main cause of such heinous crimes and violence was corruption of the ruling class and an unequal distribution of wealth in the country.

He said that according to an estimate if 40 wealthiest families of the country transfer about half of their foreign assets back to Pakistan “we can not only clear all our foreign debts but can make Pakistan one of the fast developing countries of Asia.” He said as compared with these 40 families, no less than 40 per cent of Pakistan`s population, about 60 million people, were living below the poverty line and deprived of basic human rights. They had no future at all, he added.

Corruption, he said, was also a deadly weapon against merit. “Appointments made without merit give rise to inefficiency and false pride and the officials instead of serving the people start behaving like rulers as in the police department. Corruption denies the people justice.”

He said the Quaid-i-Azam had in his address to the first Constituent Assembly on august 11, 1947 had identified corruption as a cancer and had emphasised on rooting it out. “Thus the HRSP declares jihad against corruption from today by giving its human rights award to a brave man of Pakistan, Imran Khan, who has already launched a crusade against corruption in the country.”

He said Pakistan came into being on the basis of right to self-determination as an overwhelming majority of the Muslims of the sub-continent had voted for it to seek their human rights and self-respect. But, he lamented, during the past 63 years the rulers had disappointed them. “Enough is enough. The hot waves of the change are blowing. The civil society is rising and it has already won the battle for an independent judiciary and now the goal of complete independence is not far away which, Faiz Ahmad Faiz had been dreaming to realize,” he said.

He said real democracy and winning elections through fraud and malpractice were altogether different phenomena. He hoped the Election Commission would ensure free and fair elections, saying for this the Society would give The EC a special award.

The Society considered Imran Khan for the award for earning great fame by winning the 1992 cricket World Cup and then after his retirement from the game establishing a cancer hospital in memory of his beloved mother.

The HRSP has already given its 2008 award to Imran Khan for rendering great service to the people through his hospital where the treatment was given irrespective of patients` financial status.

The Society also recognised Khan`s political role in launching a war against corruption of the powerful.

Mr Justice K M A Samdani started his career as a lecturer at Islamia College, Peshawar and later joined civil service in 1955. In 1961 he switched over to the judiciary and became an additional district and sessions judge. Later, as a law secretary he confronted military dictator Ziaul Haq when the general in a meeting said he wished he could hang all secretaries upside down. To this, Mr Samdani retorted that he too would like to do the same with corrupt generals. After the meeting Gen Zia summoned him to force him to seek an apology for his remarks, but Mr Samdani replied; “Call another meeting of the secretaries, withdraw your words and I shall also withdraw mine.” Such a courage before a ruling military general is rare. As a high court judge he gave outstanding decisions, including the release of Z.A.Bhutto on a bail despite immense pressure. He also refused to take oath as a PCO judge. He is also a good columnist.

Senator Syed Fasih Iqbal is a leading journalist hailing from Quetta where he is the editor of daily Balochistan Times and Urdu daily Zamana. Starting his career as a journalist in 1955, he had been a human rights activist. He organised civil society in Balochistan and worked hard to awaken the conscience and consciousness of the people of the province to their civil rights. He helped them in getting their grievances addressed by not only highlighting these in his newspapers but also using his influence for the purpose. He has been brave enough to bear the pressure of Baloch Sardars and tribal chiefs as a representative of the downtrodden. He has been honoured with Hilal-i-Imtiaz and Sitara-i-Imtiaz for his meritorious services.

Dr Muneezay Bano is a social and human rights worker running an NGO, SAHIL, for the past 15 years which is working for the education and welfare of special children. She is an MPhil (Special Education) from Oslo, Norway, and a PhD from Punjab University. A special symbol dictionary for the special children is her great achievement. She is also a recipient of an award by the International Talent Art Club for her services for the special children. She is also working for the welfare of children in various jails of the country.