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Pakistan on alert for fleeing defaulters

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    Pakistan on alert for fleeing defaulters

    In Financial Times of London by Farhan Bokhari:

    Pakistan tightened security at airports yesterday ahead of today's deadline for defaulters on bank loans to begin settling their dues.

    Senior government officials said that intelligence agencies had been alerted to the possibility of larger defaulters trying to leave for safe havens in order to avoid arrest. Plainclothes security men were posted around airport buildings while other law enforcement agencies, including the coastguard, were on alert to prevent defaulters leaving by sea as security was gradually tightened in the run-up to the deadline.

    Heightened security was just one of the indications that the military regime of General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power from Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister, on October 12, was serious in clamping down on abuses, senior officials said.

    The loans crackdown is the first vital test for the 56-year-old general, who has promised to clean up the economy and political life. Public opinion appears strongly in favour of the arrest of defaulters, widely seen as among the country's most corrupt citizens .

    State-owned television and radio have reported extensively on bank loan defaults in the past week. Pakistan Television last night dedicated a significant portion of its main 9 o'clock news bulletin to reporting on some of the largest defaulters.

    Bankers said it was difficult to know exactly how many arrests might take place in the early days of the campaign but officials said that new laws to support the campaign could be announced as early as this week, with banks given new powers to seize the assets of defaulting borrowers rather than having to go through years of litigation.

    Central bank officials say that 70 per cent of the equivalent of $4bn is owed by just 322 borrowers. Bankers, however, say that 50 of the largest defaulters may owe as much as half the money.

    However, the finance minister, Shaukat Aziz, said the government would try to differentiate between "wilful", as opposed to "circumstantial", defaults, to help them pay off their debts.

    Mr Aziz said in a Financial Times interview: "The government's earnest desire is to separate the wilful defaults from those with systemic problems, which have to be nursed and restructured." Bankers said Mr Aziz's remarks suggested that the campaign might allow a final opportunity to genuine businesses to restructure their debt. But they warned that Pakistan's controversial banking history suggested that such differentiation had to be done with extreme care.

    Many of the largest defaulters borrowed money from public sector commercial banks after they were nationalised in the early 1970s. Loans were often granted in return for political favours.

    Bankers say that the campaign would be important not only to Gen Musharraf's government in retaining public support but also to the health of public-sector banks at a time when Pakistan remains committed to their privatisation.

    what about the wealth amassed by army elite.
    it is more like ulta chor kotwal ko datte.


      well so far they got Rs 8 billions back, and these ppl are not chor.


        21 people arrested already in addition to the big chor's like Nawaz, Shabaz, Saifur rehman and Zardari who are already in custody. Benazir is also on the wanted list. Good work by the military. Carry on and finish the job.


          So far 60million has been recovered and many politicians are on the run. Benazir has also been charged. If it takes the military to stop the looting of our country, then so be it. Musharraf and co have handled themselves admirably so far. The people supported the coup. The people were right.