BRIG (RETD) FAROOQ HAMEED KHAN This is the era of corruption eruption. Corruption is a menace that affects all nations, though in varying degrees. It is present all over the world. The fight against corruption is assuming a global dimension. Corruption is a disease that has been allowed to become chronic. Realising the grave socio-economic threats posed by corruption, nations of the world have committed themselves to the eradication of corruption through the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). The International Association of Anti Corruption Authorities (IAACA) was established in 2006 on the initiative of the People's Republic of China, with the objective of facilitating implementation of the UNCAC and to increase mutual cooperation amongst anti-corruption agencies of various countries by increasing cooperation and coordination in mutual legal assistance, assets recovery and extradition. Pakistan has ratified the UNCAC and is also a founding member of the IAACA. The IAACA organised its second seminar at Chongqing, China from May 16 to 19, 2008. Around 200 delegates comprising heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies and prosecutor generals etc representing member countries from all the continents and a special UN Representative attended this seminar. The Pakistani delegation was headed by Chairman NAB and director, Awareness and Prevention. The main theme of this seminar was related to the successful preventive measures in the fight against corruption and implementation of UNCAC by the member anti-corruption organisations. The purpose of anti-corruption prevention is to create an environment which minimises the opportunities for corruption. The chairman NAB during address to the seminar highlighted the salient anti-corruption initiatives and achievements of the bureau. He specially emphasised NAB's efforts to recover, about Rs 223 billion including bank loan default cases, rescheduling of loans and return of corruption money through voluntary return or plea bargain. He spoke on Pakistan's efforts, in particular, to combat public frauds including the recovery and return of the billions of looted money to over 3,00,000 affectees of various scams. These efforts have enhanced the confidence of the public in the bureau's abilities to help the distressed victims as well as prosecute the perpetrators of such frauds. Other nations have implemented anti-corruption preventive measures in line with their social imperatives. In Philippines, they conduct life style checks for unexplained wealth of public officials. Hong Kong has established a Business Ethics Development Centre to promote ethics in private sector. New Guinea has set-up a Conflict of Interest Commission to ensure transparency in the working of the public sector. Iran's corruption prevention strategy includes focus on promotion of ethics and transparent procurement practice in public sector. In Indonesia the anti-corruption campaign aims for good governance and integrity, with a ministry dedicated to bureaucracy reforms. The Koreans implement a holistic approach, employing all kinds of soldiers with variety of weapons for victory against corruption. The Chinese attribute their successful anti-corruption enforcement measures as one of the reasons for their sustained annual 10 percent growth and economic strength. However, the salient conclusions of the seminar were: Strong political will and commitment at all levels are prerequisites to fight corruption. Independent judiciary is essential to dispense fair justice. Punishments for the corrupt should be strong and deterrent; merely slapping on the wrist is not enough, it should also hurt. Independent anti-corruption establishments must not violate fundamental rights and accountability should be across the board and even-handed. State must not interfere in the functioning of anti-corruption establishment. Ensure corporate governance and business ethics to minimise corruption in the private sector. High profile anti-corruption cases should be dealt with greater transparency. Integration of all stakeholders including the media and civil society in combating corruption. Promote anti-corruption education amongst society specially the youth. Cooperation in information sharing and mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties amongst members of IAACA so as to speedily extradite corrupt functionaries and speed up the return of looted state money. Corruption is too complex a phenomenon to be handled with the repressive enforcement measures only. It needs to be addressed through an integrated strategy involving Awareness, Prevention and Enforcement. Pakistan too has adopted and implemented these guiding principles to combat corruption in a holistic manner in line with the Charter of UNCAC. The second IAACA seminar reaffirmed IAACA's strong determination to pursue the global fight against corruption in all its forms and manifestation in accordance with the parameters defined by UNCAC. Pakistan must benefit from information sharing and experiences of other anti-corruption organisations under the banner of IAACA. Such international and regional initiatives against corruption are a source of strength for all anti-corruption agencies. NAB remains determined in its resolve to eliminate corruption and help Pakistan move towards our goal of a progressive, dynamic and prosperous nation. The writer is director Awareness and Prevention, NAB