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Wednesday, November 3, 1999 Published at 19:39 GMT


World: South Asia

Pakistani 'plunderers' warned

General Musharraf warned "plunderers of national wealth"

Pakistan's new chief executive, General Pervez Musharraf, has warned loan defaulters to pay back their debts or face stiff penalties, including jail.

Pakistan in crisis
He said action would be taken against the defaulters and others who he described as plunderers of national wealth.

He said they had until 16 November to make repayments.


Islamabad correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones: "Many senior Pakistani politicians are believed to have massive unpaid bank loans"
The general said lists of defaulters had been drawn up by the country's new military rulers.

The governor of the country's reserve bank has said that non-performing or defaulted loans owed to the banks in Pakistan amount to some $7 billion.

He said around $2 billion was owed by 322 families alone.

General Musharraf said: "There are many kind of plunderers and I will call them plunderers of national wealth.

"We will crack down on the first group of people and things will start from November 17," he told the official Associated Press of Pakistan.

"Maybe we'll put them behind bars, they should be prepared," he said.


[ image:  ]
In one of his first acts after overthrowing the previous government, General Musharraf ordered that accounts of leading politicians be frozen.

Since then, he has announced a crackdown on corruption and said that one of his priorities would be to set up an accountability bureau.

On Monday, General Musharraf declared his assets, in what he said was a first step towards cleaning out a corrupt system.

Commonwealth threat

The threat came as Pakistan was itself warned by Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku that it would be expelled from the organisation if it did not keep promises to return to democracy.

However he acknowledged that the organisation's attitude had been affected by the lack of popular opposition to the military coup.

Mr Anyaoku said the important thing was that the Commonwealth was now engaged in working with Pakistan to see how democracy could be restored.

General Musharraf said he would ask the National Security Council - the country's top ruling body - to consider holding a referendum on military rule.

"There are pros and cons. Not that I am scared of it."

He said he was certain the result would go in his favour.



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