Concerns of corruption highlighted as MPs talk to Pakistani community
A GROUP of MPs have been told by Derby's Pakistani community how corruption is the major obstacle to getting aid to those in need in their home country.
The International Development Select Committee visited the city on the recommendation of one of its members – Mid Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham.
It was part of the committee's work to find out more about how £400 million of UK aid – being spent in Pakistan – is being distributed and how it could be done so more effectively.
Mrs Latham and fellow committee members also visited Pakistan to see for themselves some of the aid work which has been paid for.
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However, they wanted to hear the views of people living in Britain – and who have links to the country – about where and how they believe money should be spent.
Chairman of the committee Malcolm Bruce was joined by Michael McCann and Mrs Latham at the JET centre, in Normanton, yesterday where they heard people's views.
And the overriding message was that taxpayers in this country fear money is not getting to the right places because of corruption within Pakistan's political system.
Yasmin Nazir, chief executive of Derby Women's Centre, was among representatives invited to the meeting.
She said: "Corruption is rife and it starts at the airport.
"I was in Pakistan six weeks ago and, when I went to collect my luggage at the airport, one of the staff told me I'd have to pay a mobile tax because I had four mobiles in my bag.
"It doesn't exist. I challenged it and it took half-an-hour before they let me go but I know, what I didn't pay, the person behind me would be forced to."
Mohammed Sharief, executive director of JET, said: "The vast majority of people in this city, and indeed this country, in the 'Pakistani' community are from Kashmir.
"It concerns me that our British government only talks about Pakistan and Kashmir is overlooked, yet it is one of the most impoverished areas in the world."
Mrs Latham also asked what people thought the health needs and risks were in Pakistan.
The chairman of Derby's Pakistan Community Centre, Mohammed Yaqoub, said: "Hepatitis C and polio are the problems.
"The government did a good health campaign on Denghi fever, because it affects the rich and the poor, but it doesn't put the same effort into diseases affecting just impoverished regions."
Mrs Latham said the information would inform the committee's recommendations to Parliament next year.