ISLAMABAD, April 7, Reuter: President Mohammad ZiaulHaq said on Thursday corruption in Pakistan’s government was spreading like an epidemic.

He told the annual opening of Parliament the best way of stamping out graft in this Moslem nation of 100 million people would be to apply traditional Islamic laws more vigorously.

“People are fed up with corruption,” Zia said. His speech was described by political analysts as a criticism of the three year old civilian administration of Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo.

“More than half the complaints people send to my Secretariat are about bribery and favor seeking… people say this epidemic was there in the past but no so much as now.”

Zia, who seized power in a 1977 military coup, handed over day today affairs of state to Junejo after controversial 1985 elections from which political parties were barred.

Zia complained that a process of enforcing an Islamic order in Pakistan had been slowed down during the past three years. He blamed bribery on what he called’ a slow process of justice.

“It has assumed alarming proportions over the past three years. Not only rates of bribery have gone up, people also demand a bribe openly”.

Pakistan has a traditional Islamic higher federal Sharia court, but Zia’s plans to set up similar courts at a lower level have not been implemented by Junejo.

In the early days of his rule, Zia decreed harsh Islamic punishments like chopping off hands for theft, stoning to death for rape and adultery, and flogging for drinking. But so far no hand cutting or stoning to death sentence has been carried out.

He said the “Islamisation” process must be speeded up. “There is thirst in people’s minds for enforcing Islam. Try to quench this thirst.”

Article extracted from this publication >> April 15, 1988