UNITED NATIONS, Oct 23 (APP): Pakistan told the United Nations Thursday that fighting corruption is at the heart of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s agenda, and called for ensuring that there were no “safe havens” for corrupt funds.
“The foundation of ‘naya’ Pakistan is laid on the vision of promoting a culture of accountability and zero tolerance for corruption,” Pakistani delegate Saad Ahmad Warraich said in a speech to the General Assembly’s Sixth Committee, which deals with legal matters.
Speaking in a debate on ‘The rule of law at the national and international levels: measures to prevent and combat corruption’, he said his government recognizes that a “corruption-free Pakistan” was an essential precursor to ensure rule of law, eradicate poverty, address socio-economic inequalities and achieve inclusive and sustainable development for all.
Warraich, a counsellor at the Pakistan Mission to the UN, said that steps taken to accomplish those goals were already producing results.
In his remarks, the Pakistani delegate said corruption was an “insidious plague” with a wide range of corrosive effects on societies and economies across the world.
He underscored that corruption diverted resources from where they were needed most, thereby undermining trust in institutions and hampering the ability of developing countries to mobilize domestic finance.
The volume of wealth stolen due to corrupt practices such as bribery, tax evasion and money laundering were staggering, he noted, pointing out that a significant portion of these funds gets siphoned off to global safe havens as illicit financial flows.
Calling for a comprehensive multidisciplinary and integrated global approach to fight corruption, the Pakistani delegate added that stolen assets, including the proceeds of corruption, bribery and other illicit gains must be fully returned to developing countries.
Also highlighting various gaps prevailing in existing mechanisms, Warraich called on the international community to consider the possibility of an additional protocol on asset returns.
Mutual legal assistance in the investigation and prosecution of offences was essential to give teeth to global efforts to combat corruption, he said, adding that “there should be no safe havens for the proceeds of corruption.”
Countries must impose criminal and financial penalties on financial institutions which enable corruption and bribery, the Pakistani delegate emphasized.
“Enablers of corruption and bribery such as bankers, accountants, lawyers and other intermediaries must be closely regulated, monitored and held accountable,” he said, while stressing the need for a fair, transparent and predictable system of adjudication for investment disputes.
The UN, he added, should set-up a mechanism to coordinate and supervise the work of the various official and non-official bodies dealing with illicit financial flows to ensure coherence, consistency and equity in their work.