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EDITORIAL: Out of 139 countries, Pakistan has been ranked at 130th place in the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2021 project. Moreover, it has been placed 5th out of six in the South Asian region. In other words, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh are ‘better’ placed as compared to Pakistan. Denmark, Norway and Finland top the WJP Rule of Law index for 2021. The report shows Pakistan doing badly in areas of corruption, fundamental rights, order and security and regularity of enforcement. In the area of criminal justice system, open government and constraints on government it has been placed 4th out of six in the region. This rating is hardly a matter of satisfaction when Pakistan is still too far away from the goals that its founders set for it at its birth as an ideological state. Even the process of accountability in Pakistan has failed to receive recognition by the WJP Rule of Law exercise. One can safely deduce that the incumbent government is far away from ground realities: the executive has resorted with abundance to issuance of ordinances, independence of accountability is questionable, media is under the sword of government control, bribery is rampant and governance exists more in words than actions. In corruption, Pakistan lies in the red zone which means it is amongst the countries where the level of corruption is massive. As for the fundamental rights, Pakistan is also in the red zone and for order and security situation Pakistan is third-last among the 139 assessed countries.

Although the WJP Rule of Law Index is an assessment, it’s a strong reflection of reality. The 2021 index relies on national surveys of more than 138,000 households and considered opinions of 4,200 legal practitioners and law experts to measure how rule of law is practiced, experienced and perceived around the world. It is a comprehensive picture of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law that forcefully impacts their international image. As Pakistan does so poorly in implementation of rule of law, it is facing issues of productive relationships with other countries. It weighs light in its foreign relationships, both political and economic. Its most negatively impacted field is foreign investment as nobody would like to invest in Pakistan where the rule of law figures as poorly as depicted by the World Justice Project. This is a very unfortunate situation. Improving this image is certainly a very challenging task but it is doable nevertheless. The two most critical areas that need urgent attention are our outdated legal system and rampant official corruption. We need to deal with these challenges with a new vigour and zeal without any further loss of time.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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