Thursday May 23, 2024

Transparency report

By Editorial Board
January 27, 2022

The PTI government, before it came to power, had pledged that it would do away with corruption within 90 days of being sworn in. That did not happen, In fact, as per a rather damning report for the government, Transparency International, the international corruption watchdog body based in Berlin, has downgraded the country from 124 to 140 out of 180 countries in its latest report for 2021. Looking at the past three years, since the PTI government assumed power, we find a consistent decline from the 117th position in 2018 to 120th in 2019 and 124th in 2020. The latest decline by 16 positions is remarkable considering the PTI leader’s single-minded stance on corruption. The government has of course immediately tried to parry the assertions made in the TI report.

The government’s reaction to the report has of course led to reminders of how Imran Khan and his party had roundly criticised the PML-N government for the failures they said had been highlighted in the Transparency International reports published during that tenure. Ironically, Pakistan ranks better in those reports. Since the data used in the report comes from sources such as the Economist Intelligence Unit, the World Bank’s CPIA, World Economic Forum, and the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, the government cannot brush it aside as not convincing or reliable enough. Even if we agree with the narrative that weak rule of law and state capture are responsible for this low ranking, the question remains about how the government has improved the rule of law or has reduced ‘state capture’ since 2018.

The report is no doubt a huge embarrassment for the current government. The details include matters such as whether an audit of government spending was maintained properly, whether funds allocated to government members were recorded and accounted for, whether there were proper attempts to check corruption within the various institutions and other questions pertaining to corruption and its impact on people. In total Pakistan has fallen in three areas out of eight measured by the report which include those such as rule of law, democracy, and other factors, but even in the areas where it has not slipped, there has been no improvement over the past. The report then comes as a huge blow and the PTI government needs to explain why it made promises it could not keep and what it intends to do during the one and a half years it still has left in power to meet these pledges made to the people of Pakistan.