Crisis of Good Governance in Pakistan


Written By Irum Moin

1. Introduction

Pakistan is not a failed state but a badly governed one. Good governance is the inevitable element of a state the absence of which deteriorates the public welfare. With measured reforms and institutionalization, governance can be made better in the country.

2. Attributes of Good Governance
– General Public Welfare and State’s Health
– Health, Education, Standard of Living
– Provision of fundamental rights
– Provision of Basic Necessities

3. Crisis of Good Governance in Pakistan
– Sectors badly governed in Pakistan
– Institutions badly governed in Pakistan

4. Causes of Good-Governance Crisis
– Personalization rather than institutionalization
– Corruption and nepotism
– Ineffective short-term policies
– Wrongly set priorities
– Weak accountability
– Weak state governing institutions
– Political instability

5. Reforms and Institution Building
– Strengthening state institutions
– Making the state institutions independent of undue influence
– Effective implementation of laws
– Empowering accountability and law-enforcing agencies
– Ensuring political stability and nurturing the healthy growth of the democratic system

6. Contemporary Governance in Pakistan
7. Conclusion

Pakistan is a state rich in resources and talent but badly governed. A brief history of the country since 1947 reveals how different modes of governance have been brought into experiments under various civil and military regimes in Pakistan.

Good governance, in general, refers to the measures of a government which bring welfare to the public lives and state as a whole. Contrary to that, the crisis of good governance is the continuous failure of a government to govern the state and its subjects effectively. Scales to measure good governance varies just as vary its levels in different government sectors.

If Pakistan is considered under the said definition, it gets obvious that the governments of the country failed most of the time in governing it well. The reasons behind this failure are mostly found in the factors of corruption, immoral politics, authoritarianism, and the dearth of leadership.

The crisis of good governance in Pakistan is not a new concept. It has been contested for a long time. Even today, when the neighboring country like China has evolved from its roots into a well-governed state, Pakistan still lags behind in devising a clear mechanism of governance reforms and institution building.

The crisis of good governance can be understood only when one gets to know about the attributes and features of good governance. Among these attributes ‘General Public Welfare and State’s Health’ come the first. Good governance is attributed to the welfare of the masses. If the people of a state are living a good life with all the fundamental rights and the basic necessitates secured, it can be said that the state is well-governed. Another part of this is the health of the state. It can be measured in the economic, defense, and political strength of a country. A state when healthy in its defense and politico-economic outlooks is usually well-governed. Further, good governance brings an overall better standard of life. It can be said in a way that the attributes of good governance vary in the eyes of a common man, a ruler, and a state as a political entity.

The crisis of good governance is the name of a situation when all the attributes mentioned above are missing or replaced by the social and political abnormalities. These abnormalities can be in the form of agents that deteriorate the levels of good governance. Pakistan is in a state of a governance crisis. Its apparent manifestations can be seen in the declined public health, illiteracy, and poverty. Another important way to judge the crisis of governance in Pakistan comes in the shape of the weak state institutions and mismanaged state-controlled enterprises. For instance, the decline of Pakistan Steel Mills and Pakistan International Airlines speak how the crisis of good governance swallowed these mighty revenue-producing sectors. Similarly, take an example of the judiciary as a state institution. It has been suppressed by the executive throughout the history of the country. There has always been a rift at some level in civil and military leadership of the country. This accounts for a major factor behind the crisis of good governance in Pakistan which comes in the shape of the clash between the state institutions thus adversely affecting their performance.

Among the primary causes of the crisis of good governance in Pakistan comes first the personalization of things rather than institutionalization. Institutions are important to every state. When these institutions become hostage to persons they begin to deviate from the principles of good governance. In Pakistan, during the military rules, the institutions of the executive, legislature, and even judiciary have brought into personalization of the ruling dictator. This helped in rendering the will of the dictator superior over the law of an institute.

Secondly, the factors of corruption and nepotism in a state like Pakistan put it into a governance crisis. These two things annihilate the state’s governance structure as merit gets to be replaced by favor.

Thirdly, the lack of long term and well-read state policies becomes another important cause in bringing a crisis of good governance. States are governed well through integrated long term planning and policies which are implemented in several episodes. In Pakistan, governments have plans to govern the country well but they collapse because of their short-term nature and politically motivated objectives.

Fourthly, the priorities of a government also determine the level of state governance. If a state brings the development of infrastructure as a priority over health, education, and welfare of the masses when these all are required then the system collapses. In Pakistan, more is being spent on building infrastructure and little on the provision of basic facilities like health, education, and employment.

Fifthly, lack of accountability further volatiles the crisis of good governance. Even if state officials are corrupt, bad governance can be averted by holding them accountable. But when the institutions of accountability become subject to the will of the officials then the crisis becomes inevitable. In Pakistan, the institution of accountability i.e. NAB is often subject to political controversies. Even the incumbent Prime Minister of Pakistan has discouraged NAB for its independent investigations.

Lastly, political instability in a state puts it into a crisis of good governance. When a system of governance is not let to evolve and grow normally and political instability is created in the form of overthrowing a legitimate government, it becomes impossible for a state to ensure good governance.

In the contemporary run, the country might be facing the governance crisis but the evolving custom of political stability is a ray of hope. Unlike in the past, political government is being let to complete its constitutional tenure and then go for elections. That is a healthy development which is bringing Pakistan on the track of good governance. This along with strengthening the democratic practices will also help in minimizing the causes of the crisis. In compact, Pakistan has for long been facing the crisis of good governance but the contemporary political phase can ensure a positive change.

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