Rising in transparency

January 28,2017

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Till a few years ago, every passing day used to bring a new corruption scandal for Pakistan. In the last three years, things have turned around in the country. Today, Pakistan is referred to in positive terms in the international arena. Whether it is the reduction of corruption in the country, the realisation of macroeconomic stability, rapid progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), booming stock market, successful completion of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme or reduction of power shortages, none of it was even conceivable in 2013 when the PML-N government assumed power.

The latest Transparency International report 2016 has once again verified what I have been saying for almost a year now: ‘Pakistan is rising’. The Transparency International report shows that Pakistan has improved its ranking by nine positions on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in the world. According to the CPI, Pakistan’s score has increased from 30 to 32 points compared to 2015. This is a historical achievement given that Pakistan has jumped from the lowest one-third countries on the CPI to the middle one-third countries in 2016 for the first time ever.

Since 2012, Pakistan has improved 23 positions on the CPI. For any country in the world, this would be a source of inspiration and positivity. I would like to congratulate the people of Pakistan and the democratic institutions of the country on this great news. Those with vested interests – who try to create doubts in peoples’ mind that democracy can’t deliver in Pakistan – must be looking for a hiding place after the release of the Transparency International report.

The PML-N’s democratically elected government is consistently delivering and fulfiling its campaign promises – it is to bettering the security situation, energy crisis, economy and education. Pick up statistics from any independent organisation on these four accounts and you will find improvements in each one of them. The leading international economic and financial publications are testimonials to these facts. This turnaround is not a coincidence or good fortune, it is a result of the consistent policies of the PML-N government. But Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif repeatedly tells his cabinet that this should not make us complacent because we have to continue moving forward to undo the historical baggage we inherited from undemocratic regimes.

One segment of the Pakistani media and body polity are even going to take this positive news about Pakistan (Transparency International report) with a pinch of salt. This is because they have a habit of making their living out of portraying Pakistan in a dark and gloomy way; these elements with vested interests specialise in ridiculing the democratic institutions of the country. Therefore, they can’t digest any positive news about Pakistan under a democratically elected government.

For a thought experiment, imagine if Transparency International report had downgraded Pakistan’s performance on the CPI. What would that have entailed? That news would have been broadcast repeatedly day and night by some of the media channels and politicians. A series of talk shows would have been dedicated to mourn the ‘rise’ of corruption in Pakistan. Some would have used this as ‘proof’ that Pakistan is not a suitable for democracy. But against their wishes, this did not happen. Of course, I don’t expect the same level of enthusiasm regarding the fact that Pakistan’s ranking has been upgraded on the CPI. But would these talk show ‘experts’ have enough courage to at least celebrate this positive news about Pakistan? The jury is out.

Pakistan’s success in reducing corruption is the fruit of the continuation of democracy in the country. It is the result of the PML-N’s systematic move towards inclusive institutional and economic reforms that were kick-started in 2013 and are chalked out in the Pakistan Vision 2025. The PML-N government under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has marked the beginning of a new chapter in the development story of Pakistan.

Infrastructure projects worth over Rs1,000 billion have positively transformed the physical landscape of our country. Power projects involving the highest ever energy portfolio investment are already yielding their dividends and soon power shortages would become a thing of a past. CPEC is moving forward with fast speed. But not a single scandal has taken place. The government has saved hundreds of billions of rupees in development projects by following prudent and transparent methods. The economic growth has steadily increased since 2013 and it is expected to go above five percent this year.

Today, Pakistan has the highest ever foreign exchange reserves. The inflation rate is at its historic low. International credit rating agencies have upgraded Pakistan’s credit ratings. Pakistan has been declared “the emerging market economy with one of the best performing stock markets in the region”.

The people of Pakistan should ask this question: Are these positive changes possible under a corrupt government? I am sure their answer would be a resounding no. Under a corrupt government, foreign exchange reserves go down instead of going up, economic growth stagnates and credit ratings go down. The Transparency International ranking does not improve, it deteriorates further.

Therefore, all the facts point towards one thing – the PML-N government under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is transparent and honest. The people of Pakistan are well aware of this fact which is why since 2013 in almost every election, they have opted for the PML-N and showed their confidence in the policies of PM Sharif.

I understand that our political opponents are very desperate and they would go to any length to muddle the waters through their fat lies. But let me reiterate, all the efforts of our political adversaries will fail because people of Pakistan can separate ‘facts’ from ‘lies’.

The writer is the minister for
planning and development.

Twitter: betterpakistan


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