Three weeks back, Helpline Trust had organised a seminar in Karachi on Corruption and White Collar Crimes, in which the Key Note Speaker had been Mr. Khalid Mirza, Chairman CCP and Justice (R) Saiduzzaman Siddiqui, Former Chief Justice of Pakistan & Chairman, had Chaired the seminar. The objectives of the seminar had been to highlight the massive scale of corruption, resulting from money laundering, bribery, price-fixing cartels and undue influence on public policy and the role CCP is playing to protect the interests of the consumers. The opening of Pandoras Box by the SC of Pakistan is a glimpse of how the evil octopus of corruption has spread its deadly tentacles though our system of government and the military and how it has destroyed the moral fibre of the entire nation. Corruption has deprived over 70% of our population from basic health and education and other civic amenities and has left us with a permanent begging bowl, which we have been unable to break in sixty-three years. It has also deprived our six generations from an opportunity to live like decent human beings and over the years, Quaids Pakistan has become the most dangerous country in the world. Therefore, I was very keen on organising the seminar on corruption and whit collar crimes and recognise CCPs brave stand to fight these powerful cartels. I had first met Mr. Mirza while hosting programs on Vibe TV on Consumer Banking and had invited him to participate in a program relating to the allegations that leading banks in Pakistan had formed a cartel, which was detrimental to the interests of the consumers. Khalid had been kind enough to accept the invitation and had specially flown down to Karachi from Islamabad to participate in the program. That was almost a year back, so when the sugar crisis was at its peak, a friend suggested that I should invite the Chairman, CCP to speak on the sugar crisis and the sugar cartels. I had been reading about the brave stand that CCP had taken against the powerful sugar cartels and felt that a seminar on this important issue would be very productive. As such, I called him and introduced myself again and requested him to be the Key Note speaker at our planned seminar. I was pleasantly surprised when he agreed without any hesitation, but explained that due to his extensive travel schedule, he would revert back to confirm the final date. A few days later, he called and confirmed 19 November for the seminar. And by the grace of God, we had a full house and all the learned speakers spoke extensively on the menace of corruption and white collar crimes and the important role CCP is playing in fighting the powerful cartels However, the very existence of CCP had been under threat at that time, as the rich and powerful cartels had been opposing the competition laws in the country and CCP would have ceased to exist on 28th November, as Parliament had not passed the Competition Ordinance 2007, as required by law. HT had taken up this issue also and had appealed to the President, the PM and CJ of Pakistan through a letter, requesting the President to validate the CCP Ordinance. We had appealed that CCP should be allowed to function in its present capacity, without any changes or amendments in its laws. (Letters to the Editor, Dawn 25th November). The President of Pakistan had been good enough to validate CCP on the last day of its existence, through a Presidential Order, but since then, there seems to be a well-planned strategy by vested interests to malign and tarnish the credibility of the organisation and its Chairman. The onslaught had started with a letter to the Editor in Dawn, 5th December, 'Looking into CCP claims, in which Chairman, CCP was accused of 'Unprofessional behaviour. Then a deliberate misinformation was planted in the newspapers, creating confusion about filing appeals against CCP decisions. I had consulted two senior former Judges of the Supreme and High Court of Pakistan and asked them whether CCP appeals should be allowed to be filed in the High Courts of Pakistan. Both were of the opinion that such an amendment would destroy the effectiveness of CCP, as most of the violators would get a Stay Order and the matter would drag in the courts for years. Anyway, the said misinformation has been clarified and the government has confirmed that only the Supreme Court of Pakistan has the authority to hear any appeals against CCP. In the absence of Consumer Protection Laws and the enforcement of existing laws, Competition Commission of Pakistan is one organisation that is fighting a formidable battle on behalf of the ordinary consumers against the powerful Mafias and Robber Barons sitting in Islamabad. Therefore, the closing down of CCP or introducing any changes in its structure would be a disaster for the economy and the consumers. However, a word of caution for CCP. It must tread softly, as it is stepping on sensitive and powerful toes. It should not open too many fronts and must avoid excessive publicity and exposure and keep its remarks and observations professional. To maintain its credibility and transparency in its dealings, it should post all relevant information and actions, together with a copy of the CCP Ordinance 07 and the procedures for filing appeals, etc., on its website. And civil society and companies who believe in CSR, GMP and putting their consumers first, should support CCP in its efforts to provide a level playing field for all, (email: trust@super.net.pk)