ISLAMABAD - President Dr Arif Alvi Sunday expressed resolve to further strengthen National Accountability Bureau while the NAB Chairman Justice (R) Javed Iqbal said that death sentences over corruption might reduce country’s population by half.

Addressing a seminar, Our Faith, Corruption Free Pakistan, here on Sunday, the president emphasised the need for taking the corruption cases to logical conclusion by strengthening the prosecution.

Dr Alvi said that NAB law was legitimate and the institution was working impartially. President Alvi said that corruption was an assault on the entire human kind and it impacted the lives of all people.

He said that corruption was the major impediment in the way of development of the country. He said, “Our people illegally stashed billions of dollars abroad and the government was compelled to take loans from others to support the economy.”

The President said the society as a whole would also have to contribute in the campaign against this curse.

Alvi said future of the country was bright as the new government and the state institutions were heading in the right direction.

President termed the corruption as the biggest impediment in national development urged the anti-corruption institutions to plug the financial leakages to execute the dream of a pro-people Naya Pakistan.

The president said the agenda of leaving behind a country free from corruption was of vital importance.

He said the absence of rule of law cast negative impact on society and said the impartiality, competence and strategy were a must for the institutions mandated to eliminate corruption.

He said the carrying out investigation on the basis of one’s assets was an Islamic as well as worldwide practice to probe the white collar crimes.

He desired NAB to excel in the prosecution to enhance the conviction rate.

He was hopeful of the success of the idea of Naya Pakistan where the poor would have no worry for the education and healthcare of his family and everyone would enjoy equal employment opportunity.

Addressing the seminar, the NAB chairman said the Bureau was doing across-the-board accountability without any discrimination. According to a private TV channel, the anti-graft agency chairman said that the death sentences over corruption might reduce country’s population by half.

He asserted that the accountability watchdog was an autonomous body and had no ties with any political party. He added that the top anti-graft body was loyal only to the state. “We are moving towards our goal of eliminating corruption,” he said.

He said that everyone wanted accountability but everyone also wanted to be exempted, adding, “It is a legitimate question to ask where the money is being spent but some take this question as an insult.”

The NAB chairman further said that the accountability watchdog had the right to inquire. Bureaucracy was the backbone of any government, he said.

“Even a common man has the right to ask about where his money is being spent,” he said. On December 6, Justice (R) Javed Iqbal said that the NAB was actively working for accountability and as many as 400 references had been filed by the NAB.

He said that NAB recovered Rs3.64 billion over the last one year from corrupt elements. He said that those involved in the malicious propaganda against NAB could no longer hoodwink the people.

The chairman credited the present government for giving complete autonomy to the NAB.

The NAB chairman categorically said his institution would neither take any dictation nor it would victimise or favour any party or group. He said as the NAB investigated the transactions by the previous government, the sitting government too should not feel embarrassed if it had to go through the scanner.

He questioned as what was the harm if NAB questioned the spending of $95 billion when the condition of the hospitals, schools and colleges was contrary to it.

He said the Bureau had legal right to question anyone for any corruption as it was not a Mughal empire. During last one year, the NAB had succeeded to make realize those sitting at helm of affairs that they would be made accountable for their deeds.

The Chairman NAB also drew comparison between the life of a poor in Pakistan and those who dramatically changed their lifestyles from owning a bike to buying properties in Dubai. He said NAB’s conviction rate had risen to 70 percent and it was immaterial for the institution whether someone under investigation was a former prime minister or so.

Citing a record imposition of Rs 10 billion fine in Mudharba case by the accountability court due to NAB’s efficient prosecution, the chairman said the institution had also recovered Rs 13.64 billion during last year and paid to the aggrieved parties.

Country Representative UNODC read out the message of the UN Secretary General and said around $2.7 trillion or 5 percent of global GDP went to corruption annually. He called for joint efforts to promote transparency to recover the stolen assets.

Earlier, the President Alvi also launched a commemorative coin and postal stamp in connection with the International Anti-Corruption Day. He also gave away merit certificates to outstanding officers of NAB.