Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that no country in the world can progress where a large number of people tolerate and accept a corrupt system which had been the case in Pakistan for decades.
“When I talk about bringing change, it is not like I would just switch on a button and everything will change… for change to come, our mindsets also need to change,” the premier said while addressing the inauguration ceremony of e-bidding, e-billing and GIS mapping system under the National Highway Authority.
The Inauguration is reflection of NHA’s steps towards E-Governance and highlights special initiatives of the present government to transform the economy and work practices on modern lines under Prime Minister Imran’s vision for improved service delivery, read an official handout.
The National Highway Authority has digitised the existing mutual base systems while introducing smart technologies at par with international standards aimed at good governance, maintaing transparency and ensuring accountability, it added.
Prime Minister Imran stressed once again that corruption was one of the biggest issues facing the country, adding that “it makes bad deeds acceptable in society”.
“20 years ago, we decided at Shaukat Khanum [hospital] that we will go paperless. It suddenly stopped whatever corruption that was happening at that time as it became impossible for people to make illicit money,” he maintained.
The prime minister said that automated systems have been in place across the globe for more than 20 years but unfortunately they were being introduced in Pakistan only now where corruption has been a very big issue.
“People who promote the status quo cannot bring change. The world benefitted from automation but it did not happen in Pakistan because a corrupt system was in place.”
Referring to Broadsheet LLC CEO Kaveh Moussavi’s recent revelations, where he claimed that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif offered a bribe to the firm for abandoning a probe against his foreign assets, Khan said that the interviewee clearly said that Pakistani ministers were involved in corruption.
“When people indulge in corrupt practice at the very top, the subordinates follow suit because their superiors are left with no moral authority to stop them,” he remarked.
The premier said that when our rulers go to the United Nations or other international forums, they stay in the most luxurious and expensive hotels unlike the leaders of the West.
Khan said that digitisation makes corruption difficult. “Our next target is FBR (Federal Board of Revenue). It will be a big change in Pakistan. I have given them [authorities concerned] time till summer,” he added.
PM Imran stressed that tax collection would increase as soon as FBR gets digitised. “I will put pressure on other ministries as well to go for e-governance.” Prime Minister Imran Khan said that when the head of state is involved in corruption then the country’s entire machinery that works under him is affected. The prime minister, speaking about the NHA’s initiative, said that the corruption in the tenders and bidding would lessen through the institutions’ new measures.
“We will ask other ministries to also shift towards e-governance,” he said.
These modern systems were rolled out 20-years ago, the premier said, adding: “The people who take advantage of an outdated system do not want it to improve.” He highlighted that through automation, the world was able to curtail corruption. “Unfortunately, we have accepted this corrupted system.”
“Only a self-reliant and honest nation deserves respect,” the prime minister said. He lamented that when the head of state is dishonest, it affects the entire system. “Failure to acknowledge corruption is worse than being corrupt.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter on Wednesday to weigh in on “revelations” by UK asset recovery firm Broadsheet’s owner Kaveh Moussavi about Pakistani ruling elites “stashing ill-gotten gains abroad.”
“Panama Papers exposed our ruling elites corruption and money laundering earlier. Now Broadsheet revelations have again exposed the massive scale of our ruling elites corruption & money laundering. These elites cannot hide behind “victimisation” card on these int revelations,” he wrote on his official Twitter handle. “What do these revelations expose repeatedly? Exactly what I have been saying in my 24-y[ea]r fight against corruption which is the biggest threat to Pak[istan]’s progress.
These elites come to power & plunder the country,” the prime minister said.
He further said, they do money laundering to stash their ill-gotten gains abroad, safe from domestic prosecution. They then use their political clout to get NROs. That is how they kept their plundered wealth safe. People of Pak[istan] are biggest losers.”