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Pakistan has experienced several miseries on multiple fronts as a result of the governance crisis. Nonetheless, adopting the strategies of digital governance can ensure transparency, accountability, the rule of law, equity, responsiveness, and participation in the country, which- collectively- would make it prosperous.
2-The Current plight of governance in Pakistan
The country’s performance globally or even at the regional level being lamentably poor, World Bank Governance Indicators
3-What are the hurdles experienced by the country in the way of achieving good governance in it?
- ✓Deterioration of political fabric
- Imran Khan enhanced the power of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) without a broad-based consensus
- ✓Dearth of Transparency and responsiveness
- Almost 100 per cent of correspondents to a Transparency International survey reported daily solicitation of bribes by police officials, the Michelsen Institute.
- ✓Scourge of corruption
- Pakistan ranking 140th out of 180th countries in Transparency International’s corruption index 2022
- ✓Economic crisis
- Pakistan ranking 150th among the 193 countries surveyed in 2022, United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI) report
4-How can the introduction of e-governance in the country buckle down the governance crisis in it?
- ✓Improve participation of civil society in the decision-making process through a feedback mechanism
- ✓Ensure transparency by easy access to information about the government’s policies
- ✓Boost accessibility by approaching the government’s services for the citizens
- ✓Increase the efficiency of government by reducing the need for a paper-based system
- ✓Enhance service delivery by making it more convenient for citizens to access them
- ✓Reduce inequalities by providing equal economic opportunities to all
- ✓Promote the rule of law by empowering citizens for their rights through awareness campaigns
Answer to the Question
Good governance is indispensable for a country’s socioeconomic welfare, political stability, and future. It conveys the perks of prosperity evenly to all and sundry. Nonetheless, Pakistan is included in one of those countries, which are entangled in the gigantic issues of governance hampering their ability to grow smoothly and sustainably. That is why Dr Ishrat Husain argues that poor governance manifested in weak institutions is the predominant explanation for the unsatisfactory economic and social performance of Pakistan over the last quarter of the century. In addition to them, political instability, corruption, and lack of transparency are making the predicament of the country worse and worse after every passing day. However, still, things can be resolved. Implementing electronic- governance mechanisms can back the country on track to prosperity because it would improve the participation of the whole society in policies and decision-making of the country after providing them access to all information about governmental affairs. Furthermore, it can help the government with fast service delivery with minimum cost and time. Last but not least, the mitigation of corruption and rising socioeconomic inequalities can only be feasible through the launching of e-governance in Pakistan.
“The government’s real purpose is to create ease for its people. Science and technology have created shortcuts for people.”Imran Khan – Former Prime Minister of Pakistan
The current plight of governance in Pakistan
The current scenario of governance in Pakistan is not encouraging. The government performs- poorly- on all of its services, ranging from socioeconomic to political, due to poor governance. Similarly, on the World Bank Governance indicators, the country’s performance globally or even at the regional level is lamentably poor, falling much behind Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka on dimensions like voice and accountability, political stability, and absence of violence, and government effectiveness. As a result, many social evils have emerged, creating hindrances in the way of the country’s progress. Raising poverty and unemployment, social degradation, corruption, ethnic and sectarian differences, inept policies, and national security threats is one of them. Due to these conundrums, kleptocracy has flourished in the country instead of democracy, where the significant elements of good governance, such as transparency, answerability, inclusiveness, the rule of law, and participation, are not found. Contrarily, chaos and instability have taken the place of these parameters in society. Hence, it is high time for Pakistan to address the rising issues of governance before it engulfs the sovereignty of the country.
What are the hurdles experienced by the country in the way of achieving good governance in it?
Pakistan has to face several challenges to attain good governance in it. First, political instability directly hits on its structure of governance. Political parties in opposition try their best to topple the government by hook or by crook in order to establish their own government. However, owing to these unethical approaches, the element of consensus in the country’s policy-making is going to be missed, which is exploited by bureaucrats and businessmen. For instance, the federal government led by Imran Khan enhanced the power of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) without broad-based consensus. As a result, bureaucrats stopped signing the file, and businessmen, investing the money. The economic activities in the country came to a halt. Consequently, the government had to soften the rules to exempt businessmen from the accountability of NAB. Similarly, a lack of transparency and responsiveness has affected the country’s governance. Neither free access to information about the government’s affairs is given to all citizens, nor immediate actions are taken to counter any emerging crisis, like in the situation of COVID-19. Thus, the lack of political consensus, transparency, and responsiveness worsens the sorry state of governance in the country.
Apart from them, the scourge of corruption is at its peak in Pakistan. Despite having several accountability agencies, policies on accountability in their true sense cannot be implemented in the country. As a consequence, corruption has prevailed. Therefore, Pakistan ranks 140th out of 180th countries in transparency international’s corruption index 2022. Similarly, the economic crisis hampers the efficient working of the government. This is because it raises socioeconomic inequalities among the masses and makes situations difficult for the government to handle the rising differences sagaciously. As a consequence, Pakistan is ranked 150th among the 193 countries surveyed in the 2022 United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI) report, which marks a decline in ranking in comparison with the report published in 2018 [148th]. In short, corruption and economic failure are also added to those obstacles, which have made Pakistan unstable in terms of its governance.
How can the introduction of e-governance in the country buckle down the governance crisis in it?
Although the above-mentioned challenges highlight the bleak picture of governance in the country, introducing e-governance can counter them and help Pakistan’s government attain the characteristics of good governance. As an illustration, it would improve the factor of participation in civil society through online debates and feedback mechanisms in policies making process. As an outcome, democracy would flourish in the country in its true essence. The same transparency would be achieved in Pakistan after establishing the digital form of governance. By utilizing information technology (IT), all important information regarding governmental affairs can be delivered to all citizens easily. Consequently, the political elites would not further exploit the public money for their interest but only use it for the sake of the country’s welfare.
Next to it, e-governance is perceived as an effective tool to enhance accountability in Pakistan. Citizens would come to know about where the tax money and natural resources are invested in the country. Besides vertical accountability, nothing would remain hidden between the institutions of the state. Correspondingly, black sheep would be removed from the government’s agencies, and- eventually- meritocracy would be established. Furthermore, easy and quick operations in time of need at low-cost can only become possible for the government through IT technologies. This would increase the efficiency of the government in managing public affairs and generating a large amount of revenue. As per the statement of Imran khan, the technological revolution has changed things around for tasks that used to take time and were cumbersome for people. In brief, e-governance is one of the reliable solutions for attaining the features of answerability and efficiency in the state.
In addition, the use of electronic media can boost the responsiveness of governance. With the help of IT technologies, service delivery becomes fast. These services include public utility services and some of the democratic services relating to citizenship, such as Certification, Registration, Licensing, Taxation, Passports, ID Cards, etc. Therefore, e-governance facilitates the services flowing from the Government towards Citizens with the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Not only this but also the rising socioeconomic inequalities can be reduced with the help of these technologies. Lots of employment opportunities can be provided to the citizens to narrow the gap between them and alleviate the upsurging poverty and hunger, which- ultimately- cause chaos and conflicts in society. Lastly, by using online platforms, awareness can be raised among the nation about their rights and how they can take action against the violation of the rule of law. Without a doubt, following the principles of inclusiveness and equity help the country bring good governance to it.
Lamentably, achieving good governance has become a nightmare for both Pakistan’s stakeholders and citizens. Political polarization, lack of accountability, and economic crisis are one of those inescapable factors, which have pushed the state toward the governance crisis. As a result, along with the socioeconomic declivities, the country has lost its honour in the international community. Notwithstanding, promoting e-governance in running the state’s affairs in the current scenario is considered the top most convenient and cost-effective panacea to solve all the socioeconomic and political miseries of the state. By and large, the government can counter the challenges of the governance crisis after introducing e-governance in the state.
To summarise, the governance crisis is the root cause of all ills in Pakistan. The country exhibits all the prerequisites of a dysfunctional state because the crisis has affected its socioeconomic and political progress. Hence, at this critical juncture, it is imperative for the country to take concrete steps against the peril of bad governance. Establishing the setup of e-governance in each and every sector of the state is the best option. Where on the one side, it would improve the participation of civilians in the state’s matters. On the opposite side, the responsiveness of the government can be boosted. Similarly, through complete access to information about the government’s policymaking, transparency and accountability can be ensured in the country. Apart from them, the government can maintain the rule of law and inclusiveness in the state in the presence of e-governance. In a nutshell, the following benefits of e-me governance can be put forward as a key to a charter of good governance in the country.
“The concept of digital government represents the goals to improving public service delivery, from making data-driven decisions to enacting evidence-based policies, from ensuring greater accountability and transparency within government to building greater public trust.”World Bank Report
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