Inspired by Anna, Pakistani to fast against corruption

 

Pakistani activist Jehangeer Akhtar

New Delhi: Taking a cue from Anna Hazare, a 68-year-old Pakistani businessman is set to go on hunger strike in Islamabad from Sep 12 to declare war on endemic corruption in his country.

Expressing his admiration for Hazare, Jehangeer Akhtar complained that corruption was a far more serious disease in Pakistan.

Activist Akhtar wants the Pakistan parliament to pass an anti-corruption law — like what India is now planning.

“I demand that an anti-corruption bill be presented in the National Assembly,” said Akhtar, who has closely followed the anti-corruption war in India.

He said the Pakistani bill should be on the lines of what gets passed in India’s parliament.

“Corruption in Pakistan is more than in India… bahut zyada (much more),” Akhtar said in a telephonic interview from Islamabad where he runs a photography business.

It is not the first time Akhtar will be taking up cudgels for a cause.

“I once sat on a hunger strike for 22 days for the sake of traders in Islamabad,” he recalled. It was about tenants being forcibly vacated.

On another occasion, he went on hunger strike for eight days.

Stating that his family does not interfere in his decisions, Akhtar said he was “very determined” to stage the hunger strike.

Apart from corruption, another issue he wants to highlight during his hunger strike is Pakistan’s soaring defence budget because of “the mindset that the stability of Pakistan is endangered due to India”.

“A group of politicians propagate such mindset. The politicians are answerable … on which front are we in danger?”

Pakistan has hiked defence allocation to Rs.495 billion in a total budget of Rs.2,504 billion (around $30 billion) for 2011-12.

“Is it not true that we started the 1965 war and lost East Pakistan in 1971 due to our follies?,” he asked.

That’s not all.

He also wants every district in Pakistan to be provided with infrastructure for education from primary to the intermediate levels with hostels.

Akhtar says he is for a stronger Lokpal Bill for India — a demand being made by Hazare and his team.

“Indian public kah rahi hai tho hona chahiye (Indians are asking, so it should happen).”

He wants the Indian government to listen to the voice of Indians.

After seeing pictures of large numbers of Indians across the country rally in support of Hazare, Akhtar is convinced that the Gandhian has emerged as a hero.

According to him, there is widespread anger in Pakistan against corruption. A Transparency International Pakistan official said corruption was the root cause of poverty, illiteracy, terrorism, shortage of electricity, and poor governance in Pakistan. By Rahul Dass

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