Friday December 09, 2022

Sliding scale

By Editorial Board
November 02, 2020

When it came to power, the PTI had promised a vast improvement in governance and an end to corruption. This has not happened, according to the annual report by the World Justice Project, a private organisation that collects data about governments and countries around the world, and especially open government, or the absence of corruption and adherence to rule of law. Pakistan has slipped considerably from its position in 2019. In 2019, out of 126 countries, Pakistan was at 117th position with a score of 0.39. In 2020, it was positioned at 120 and the score remained 0.39 with the index now comprising 128 countries. Out of the lower middle income countries, Pakistan is at 25th place out of 30 countries and in the region is ahead only of Afghanistan. The reasons for this become apparent, as the report provides its detailed review of what happened through a Gallup Survey conducted in the country. There is particular concern over the ‘constraints on government power’ factor for which Pakistan is on 79th place in 2020 compared to 74th position in 2019. A higher point score shows that there are increased constraints. In open government too Pakistan has declined from its position in 2019. And this is especially true in the Absence of Corruption Index from where it has moved up to 116th place as compared to its 112th position in 2019.

All this is an especially damning indication of how the PTI government has performed. The government had stressed that removing corruption would be its priority. It doesn’t seem to have shown much success in this. There are areas in which the country has remained on track, including access to justice with people able to obtain justice by being able to approach courts and seek redress of grievances. However, the overall picture raises concern. Pakistan with its continued development should be standing well above other countries in the region. The lack of transparency in government is a particular concern for citizens given that in any democracy, people have the right to know what is happening in government and how decisions are being made. Increasingly in Pakistan, according to the World Justice Project, this is becoming less and less known.

The problems are grave. They should be seen as a wake-up call for the government so that it can work towards amending everything that has gone wrong and move towards a situation where it can move further up the scale of countries on the World Justice Project index and show that it is indeed able to govern and protect its people better than other countries in the same economic situation as itself.