Pak head of anti-corruption group `receives death threats`

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 09:57

Islamabad: The head of Pakistan`s branch of
global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International said Wednesday he had received death threats for exposing the "misdeeds" of the government.

"I have received death threats," Syed Adil Gilani told
AFP by telephone from his Karachi office, but declined to name
those who had issued the threats.

"They are calling me anti-state and a foreign agent," he
said.

The group downgraded Pakistan eight places in its 2010
Corruption Perception Index, saying the country was regarded
as the world`s 34th most corrupt.

"We are exposing misdeeds of government officials,"
Gilani said.

The head of Transparency International, Huguette Labelle,
has written to President Asif Ali Zardari and Chief Justice
Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry over growing concerns about the
ability of the Pakistani chapter to operate freely.

According to a copy of the letter to Chaudhry seen by
AFP, Labelle asked the top judge "to address any possible
state intimidation against TI Pakistan".

The letter cited press reports that government
departments were asked to sever contacts with the watchdog`s
Pakistani chapter.

It also said Interior Minister Rehman Malik reportedly
called TI "a detective agency", threatened legal action
against its officials for "bribery" and threatened that the
organisation would not be allowed to work in Pakistan.

The letter asked the judge "to promote our shared quest
for good governance by helping our colleagues in Pakistan
re-establish common ground and purpose with the current
administration without worry about the legal basis for their
work".

Casy Kelso, advocacy director of Transparency
International`s secretariat in Berlin, told AFP by telephone
that there had been no response from Pakistan.

He confirmed that the head of the Pakistani chapter had
received "more than one death threat" but did not give further
details.

Gilani linked the intimidation campaign to TI monitoring
the flow of money under a record USD 7.5 billion US aid programme passed by Congress.
The group signed an agreement with USAID in September to
set up a hotline to monitor use of the funds.

The US embassy in Islamabad confirmed receiving the same
letters from Transparency International, but said the hotline
was not yet up and running, so cast doubt on a direct link to
the USAID programme.
Kelso said that when Transparency International chapters
start measuring specific misuse or divergence of funds,
intimidation can increase and take on a more serious
form.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 09:57

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