LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that the rampant counterfeiting and piracy are depriving the national exchequer of billions of rupees every year besides causing tremendous harm to the industry and adversely impacting the countrys economic development. Addressing a workshop on the Role of Media in Projecting Legitimate Business Practices and Curbing Piracy as chief guest, he said the Punjab government would not allow the mafia, smugglers and counterfeiters to harm the nation and the country and it shall spare no effort to root out these menaces. The workshop was organised by the Anti-Counterfeit & Infringement Forum (ACIF) in collaboration with MediaMark. He said it is Pakistans dilemma that the common man is poor and compelled to buy cheap products to meet his day today needs. Taking advantage of this situation, mafia, counterfeiters and smugglers, who are virtually controlling the domestic markets, are openly selling their spurious, fake and counterfeit goods. He said that sometimes it becomes really difficult to distinguish between the fake and genuine products being sold in the markets. Resultantly, the poor and illiterate consumer gets deceived, and he is sold not only sub-standard and shoddy goods but has also to bear financial loss. Shahbaz Sharif said that as Punjabs Chief Minister he views counterfeiting and the illicit trade in spurious goods as a gross injustice to the people. On directives of the Punjab Government, he said, special raids are being conducted throughout the province to apprehend the counterfeiters. In addition to other emergent steps, the government is also binding the law enforcement agencies to take stringent action against counterfeiters and smugglers, he added. Since I consider the illicit trade in spurious and counterfeit goods to be a grave injustice to the people, I shall therefore himself monitor the performance of law enforcement agencies, he affirmed. The CM emphasised the need for proper implementation of the relevant laws to curb the illicit practice of counterfeiting and piracy and to safeguard consumers rights. He said that unless the law is appropriately enforced, it shall not be possible to achieve satisfactory results. Simultaneously, he said, there is the imperative need to make the common man aware about the relevant laws and his rights as citizen. Referring to the role of the mass media as a catalyst for change, the Chief Minister said if the media launches a concerted campaign against the illicit trade and smuggling, the scourge can be wiped out within months. MsAmeena Saiyid, Chairperson, Anti Counterfeit & Infringement Forum (ACIF) & MD, Oxford University Press, columnist Javed Chaudhry, Abrar Hasan, Vice-Chairman ACIF and CEO National Foods and others also spoke on the occasion. Senior columnist Javed Choudhry and Lahore Press Club President Sarmad Bashir called for effective law enforcement, coupled with appropriate level of awareness, to curb widespread piracy, counterfeiting and infringement of copyrights. They particularly drew attention towards book piracy, saying that the serious crime denies authors their due rights and hence it must be curbed with iron hands.