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- Pakistan since its birth has struggled with the issue of corruption because of the absence of transparency, the monopoly of power, and the fragility in its prison system. However, the government can nip it in the bud after bringing transparency, accountability, and responsiveness in the country.
2- Current overview of the looming challenge of corruption in Pakistan
3- What are the leading culprits behind the rising misery of corruption in the country?
- Lack of transparency
- Monopoly of power
- Weakness in the legal system
4- How can the country address its issue of corruption through its governance system?
- By enhancing transparency
- By ensuring accountability
- By strengthening rule of law
- By augmenting responsiveness
- By promoting participation
- By encouraging e- governance
Corruption has become a significant obstacle for Pakistan in the way of establishing its credibility among other nations of the world. It fuels inflation, social unrest, and political turmoil in the country. As a result, Pakistan lags behind other South Asian countries in its economic development, particularly India. According to the 2022 Corruption Perception Index, Pakistan ranks 140 out of 180 countries, whereas India lies at 85th position. Behind this ongoing dismal state of affairs, several alarming reasons exist. The lack of transparency, the monopoly of power, and the loopholes in the legal system are one of them. All of these- collectively- present the bleak picture of the state. Therefore, the time is ripe to bring it under control. Notwithstanding, it is impossible to ensure good governance in the country. Through it, transparency would be promoted in the country. Moreover, it would become easy to hold all powers and citizens accountable for their corrupt practices. Furthermore, by strengthening the rule of law, penalties would be given to all corrupt persons, irrespective of their status. Thus, after taking these prudent steps, Pakistan can achieve peace and prosperity, which would help it realize its say in the international community.
“Corruption and bribery are like a poison and a horrible disease, which need to be put down with an iron hand.”(Muhammad Ali Jinnah)
Current overview of the looming challenge of corruption in Pakistan
Pakistan, since its inception, has been confronted with the curse of corruption. At the time of independence, it inherited not only the British’s legal framework but also the bureaucratic elites that were trained to serve the British Raj. Moreover, in Pakistan, anti-corruption laws are still set up to protect politicians and elites. Aesop also rightly stated that we hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. Besides, frequent shifting of the regimes from civil to military or vice versa has created hindrances in the way of strengthening anti-corruption bodies in the country. Consequently, the country faces various issues on all fronts. Where on the one side, inflation, low Foreign Direct Investment, and poverty are at their peak in the country. Similarly, on the other hand, corruption affects the decision-making capacity of the government, especially in the yearly budget making. Hence, for the country’s prosperity, countering the tsunami of corruption has become a need of the hour.
“Corruption is the enemy of development, and of good governance. It must be got rid of.”(Pratibha Patil – A Former President of India)
What are the leading culprits behind the rising misery of corruption in the country?
However, several culprits that existed in the country created a fertile ground for the upbringing of corruption in it. First, the lack of transparency can be seen in Pakistani society. Although the country’s constitution gives its citizens a right to access information under Article 19A, it is not implemented in true letter and spirit. Consequently, ensuring accountability in the country has become a laborious task for its government. Next to it, the administrative bodies misuse their discretionary powers and exploit the poor in the form of rent-seeking. Furthermore, the process of regulations has undermined the legal system of Pakistan. Due to this, many corrupt are still secured from their punishments. In short, all the above-mentioned factors have sowed the seed of corruption in the land of the pure.
“Corruption has weakened national institutions and earned a bad name for the country in the comity of nations.”(Liaqat Ali Khan- a member of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)
How can the country address its issue of corruption through its governance system?
Although corruption has jolted the foundations of Pakistan, there are some practical measures that can put things in the right order and in the right direction by mitigating the dissemination of corruption from the country. For this purpose, transparency should be promoted in the country. Through it, people would get all information about where the public money is invested, and it would encourage meritocracy in the country. Moreover, to get out of the clutches of monster corruption, creating an environment of accountability is essential. It would keep people away from corrupt practices. As an outcome, Pakistan would get the opportunity of curbing its fiscal and current deficits.
Another pragmatic step against corruption is to ensure the rule of law in the country. According to it, all citizens and institutions of the state are equally accountable for their actions; no one can take extra economic benefits from others due to their discretionary powers. It- eventually- led the country towards domestic peace. Similarly, the element of responsiveness is needed in the country to address corruption. As a result, thousands of corruption cases would not be delayed furthermore in the country’s judicial courts; the corrupt persons would get the taste of punishment. Likewise, it would become a lesson for the upcoming generations not to adopt the custom of corruption. On the whole, rule of law and responsiveness discourages the peril of corruption in the country.
Same as public participation is also included in the panaceas of corruption. Through it, democracy would be strengthened in the country in a real sense; people can raise their voices against rent-seeking. Moreover, by using their rights, they can topple the government that would engage in corrupt exercises. In parallel, shifting towards Electronic- governance can help Pakistan buckle down the conundrum of corruption. The process of transactions for permits and civil applications would become uncomplicated for the citizens without involving a third party in it. So, the rising issue of corruption would be reduced with the help of the public and the promotion of e-governance in the country.
Without a doubt, corruption has proved to be detrimental to Pakistan’s progress. It discourages both foreign and domestic investments, creates social anarchy, and builds a wall of conflicts between the citizens and their governments. Nevertheless, the catastrophic culprits behind this critical scenario are the absence of transparency, the unnecessary use of discretionary powers, and the ineffectiveness of institutional performance. However, by working on its governance system, Pakistan can tackle its challenge of corruption. In this perspective, transparency, accountability, the rule of law, and public participation must be assured in the country.
To summarise, corruption – a mother of all social ills- has pushed Pakistan towards collapse. It has paved the way for the economic crisis, moral degradation, and trust deficit between the citizens and the institutions. Contrarily, there are myriads of causes that exist behind the rising issue of corruption in the country, such as the weakness in the transparency procedures and the legal system and the monopoly of power. Although these factors further aggravate the miserable plight of the country, Pakistan can still get success in the war against corruption after bringing institutional reforms. For this purpose, the government must restore transparency, the rule of law, and responsiveness in the country.
“There is no compromise when it comes to corruption. You have to fight it.”( A.K. Antony- A Former Minister of Defence of India)
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