The things are looking bad for the country on almost all fronts and never a day passes without giving way to negative news that affects the national morale. The latest such news is that Pakistan’s ranking on the global corruption perception index has slid to a six-year low as it is placed at 124th in the list of 180 nations due to prevalence of corruption on virtually all aspects of national life. This downslide reflects the abject failure of the incumbent government to stem the tide of corruption that was the main prop adapted by PTI on its way to power.
The global report underlined that this year’s CPI painted a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide. While most countries made little to no progress in tackling corruption in nearly a decade, more than two-thirds of countries score below 50 as 26 countries improved their scores, including Greece, Myanmar and Ecuador. In the same period, 22 countries decreased their scores, including Pakistan, Lebanon, Malawi and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The current report ends ineffective the claim of the ruling dispensation that the PPP and the PMLN were the most corrupt governments. It was the second consecutive year when Pakistan’s ranking on the global index slipped. It is worthwhile to mention that at the end of the PMLN tenure, Pakistan’s global ranking was 117. Once assessed on the basis of ruling political parties, the corruption perception during the tenure of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government is certainly poor by any standards and compared to the levels seen during the last four years of the PMLN tenure. It must however be pointed out that PTI’s second-year ranking was three notches better than the ranking at the end of the Pakistan People’s Party government in 2012.
The most worrying aspect of the entire issue is that despite two and half years of rigorous and relentless pursuit of cases against its political opponents on allegations of corruption, the ugly truth that has emerged is that Pakistan appeared to outsiders to have become more corrupt. Even a cursory glance at the source reports used to calculate the Corruption Perception Index shows that outsiders look at the institutional strength of a country to assess its level of corruption, not ongoing law-enforcement efforts. This is measured by looking at aspects such as the amount of red tape that gives bureaucracy an invasive role in decision-making or the judiciary’s ability to adjudicate without interference of powerful actors in any given country. For an anti-corruption effort to be credible in the eyes of neutral parties, it would be better if the rulers worked on building the credibility of the country’s institutions as the primary focus.
Apart from increase in corruption Pakistan has scored lower than the last year in two other aspects of governance pertaining indexation of rule of law index and varieties of democracy. In these respects also Pakistan’s score in the CPI 2020 has been reduced by one point. The rule of law index is about the corruption of government officials and the deterioration reported indicates that the government has to improve its performance in four sectors. The executive, judiciary and parliament were the three independent pillars of the state and prevalence of corruption at these three levels suggest that it would be unwise to blame only the PTI government for rampant corruption. However, the government has to share the blame for its failure to end corruption in executive’s domains.
The hard efforts made by the current dispensation to show to the public that it is the cleanest government in the country have also been badly dented. The most dangerous aspect of the CPU report is that the increasing corruption has undermined an equitable global response to COVID-19 and other crises, highlighting the importance of transparency and anti-corruption measures in emergency situations. In this context it is pointed out the pandemic is not just a health and economic crisis but it is corruption crisis that the country has not managed to control it. The COVID-19 response exposed vulnerabilities of weak oversight and inadequate transparency that impeded adequate healthcare to the people. TW