Tangled tale of corruption in Pakistan

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Wazir Ali Shah

Transparency International (TI) recently released the Corruption Perception Index CPI) ranking the position of 180 countries from the best to worsen level of corruption.  According to its report, Finland, Denmark and New Zealand scored 88/100 and clinched the rank of number 1 among these countries. South Sudan scored just 11/100 and became the world’s most corrupt country. The score of Pakistan is 28/100 that out it on 140th with minus three score change since 2020.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seems more focused on its prime manifesto of corruption-free Pakistan, but the report reveals more corruption in Pakistan during the tenure Prime Minister Imran Khan. This report now has become a tangled tale being chaotic between the claim of the current government and the unexpected finding of CPI’s report. If the government’s strategies were improvised and well directed with proper mechanism and handling of accountability, justice, merit and law and order situation, then we also need to be concerned about the credibility of Transparency International, Pakistan.

The stance of the government seems to be dismissive, taking the report as biased and controversial as it was challenged before by political parties over the reliability of Transparency International Pakistan. For example, Syed Abid Gillani, the Managing Director Transparency International Pakistan, has remained controversial for allegedly favoring Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N). In 2017, the index was at a better point when PML-N was in government. In the year 2018 when the PTI government took charge, the CPI score was 117. Current report again contradicts the claim of PTI reducing the level of corruption in Pakistan. Every year, it’s dropping towards the worst countries. Corruption pushed Pakistan in the rank of 120, 124 and 140 in the year 2019,2020 and 2021 respectively. Index point reduction in CPI placed Pakistan in the slot of 140, far ahead of many developing countries in terms of corruption. It indicates the existence of corruption in different departments under the regime of PTI’s leadership. Most of the energy of PTI’s leadership is employed on addressing and eliminating the root causes of corruption but scoring lower points contradicts this claim.

According to the report published for the year 2021, corruption levels have stagnated worldwide and Pakistan has shown no significant progress against corruption over the last few years. However, few questions can also be raised and challenge the credibility of Transparency International.  For example, the population sample number used to compile this data seems insufficient to reach this finding and variation cannot be ruled out in sufficient data sampling with a more randomized population. The opinion of just 400 people from every province of Pakistan is not enough to find out the conclusion against the massive population of almost 227 million of Pakistan. Secondly, if the government is right in its claim that the Transparency International is working under the influence of Political parties, then the data may be obtained from the localities of the influencer’s choice, and it may impact the survey and bring different findings rather than factual figures.     

The impact of TI’s report is crucial and important to maintain and boost the economic activities in Pakistan. Because it would create a risk factor and set-up a cautious frame of mind for the foreign investors to inject their money in unsecure economies like Pakistan. Economy is the focal point of our national security policy, and it requires a favorable and secure business environment and corruption free society. This report makes the investors hesitant to invest money in the market. PTI  may not defend its position based on performance and level of corruption during their tenure. Therefore, the report of Transparency International comes close to the reality of Pakistan’s position on the scale of Corruption Perception Index. Pakistan needs to do more work to formulate and execute the mechanism of those counties that brought significant progress to combat the root cause of corruption.  

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