You corrupt! He is corrupt! They corrupt! No, it was them in the previous term. Maybe its judiciary, it must be the law enforcement, “rule of law” could be a good catch phrase. Confusion, chaos and another international report on the status of the corruption across the TI’s report
world leaving Pakistan at sixteen points lower than the previous year ranking. Optics are opposition is touting it to be a government failure and the government is definitely defending it. That is how the game is played. But the time is to get to understand the now controversial, “Transparency International report” and how it generates its ranking.
Under the disguise of blames and jabs, the need is to understand the rating mechanism and then draw our conclusions of right and wrong. The minister for information and broadcasting when said that the ratings have been compromised by issues other than “financial corruption”, he was right. Transparency International report includes Corruption Perception Index (CPI); the making of the index involves the process of derivation of results from data sets drawn from various institutions. These institutions include the World Bank and World Economic Forum as well. The guidelines from the transparency international clearly state that none of the data is generated or collected by the transparency international rather it is borrowed to make a perception of a country’s public sector corruption. The practice’s main goal is to differentiate between the public and private sector situation of a country.
The 2021 CPI has given Pakistan a score of 28 of 100, where 100 represents the most clean or free of corruption. While last year in 2020, Pakistan scored 31 and was ranked 124 of a total 180 countries. While Transparency International clearly states that the reason for its decline is deteriorating situation of “rule of law” and “state capture”. Transparency International defines rule of law as “legal and political systems, structures and practices that condition a government’s actions to protect citizen’s rights and liberties, maintain law and order, and encourage the effective functioning of the government.” Whenever the corruption is discussed by the bigwig economists and experts in the frame of Pakistan, the words ‘structural deficiencies’ take its space. The country does have its challenges on the protection of rights to citizens, the recent incidents which include the mob lynching of Sri Lankan citizen, do represent each one of ours’ real face to the world. The rule of law includes obeying and respecting the law of the land. We all are responsible for its poor implementation and enhance a lower score.
On the discourse of “state capture”, the Transparency International’s Anti-corruption desk states, “state capture is one of the most pervasive forms of corruption, where companies, institutions or powerful individuals use corruption such as the buying of laws, amendments, decrees or sentences, as well as illegal contributions to political parties and candidates, to influence and shape a country’s policy, legal environment and economy to their own interests.” ‘State capture’ explains the principle of might is right, that has been the ritual and tradition since long in the land of the pure. The continued efforts by the current government have not proved to be that successful but the hope is still alive with the sitting prime minister’s commitment to and his resolve to solve the crisis of rampant corruption.
The corruption indicators for the Corruption Perception Index are not always aligned with the real situation of the corruption in a country. There are some major factors including tax fraud, the citizen perception of the corruption, money laundering, private sector corruption, informal economies and most importantly enablers of corruption including lawyers, accountants and financial advisors. All these factors are not made part of the score on the perception index as the transparency international guidelines dictates. The incumbent government’s efforts to curtail the corruption were mostly focused on the tax fraud, money laundering and formation of entities like citizen portal to address public grievances. In conclusion, we can agree on the idea that corruption cannot be measured and assessed through the Transparency International annual report only. Even though Pakistan has to go a long way to curb the menace of corruption, reforms are indeed a dire need.
(The writer is a civil servant. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the newspaper)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022