WASHINGTON: The US State Department has warned that corruption fuels extremism, increases economic instability and has a corrosive effect on society.
The department’s spokesman John Kirby made these remarks when asked if the United States supported the opposition’s demand for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down because of his alleged involvement in the Panama leaks scandal or continued to back him.
“These are decisions that the Pakistani people have to make, and…I’m not talking about this specific case,” said Mr Kirby but he did offer his views on corruption, `separate and distinct’ from this case.
The US official recalled that Secretary of State John Kerry had also been very clear about the dangers of corruption around the world and “what that does to fuel extremism and to increase economic instability and the corrosive effect that it can have on entire societies”.
Mr Kirby pointed out that Mr Kerry had addressed this issue on Wednesday as well, when he released the department’s annual human rights report which had an entire chapter on “corruption and lack of transparency in government.”
The report noted that while Pakistan had anti-corruption laws, those were not implemented effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices.
During the reporting period – 2015 – “corruption was pervasive in politics and government, and various politicians and public office holders faced allegations of corruption, including bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement,” the State Department said.
According to the report, corruption within the lower levels of police was common. Some police officials charged fees to register genuine complaints and accepted bribes for registering false complaints. Bribes to avoid charges were commonplace.
“Anecdotal reports persisted about corruption in the judicial system, including reports of small-scale facilitation payments requested by court staff. Lower courts reportedly remained corrupt, inefficient, and subject to pressure from higher-ranking judges as well as prominent, wealthy, religious and political figures.”
It noted that as of December, one in five cases against former president Asif Ali Zardari remained pending before the National Accountability Bureau, while four had been dismissed.