Transparency International said in a report on Tuesday that Pakistan failed to improve its ranking on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in 2022, remaining at 140 out of 180 countries, unchanged from the previous year. The CPI uses a scale of zero to 100 to assess how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be by its experts and businesspeople, with zero being highly corrupt and 100 being very clean. While Pakistan’s rank remained unchanged, its score fell to 27 from 28 the previous year.
According to Daniel Eriksson, leaders can fight corruption while also promoting peace. Governments must make room for the public to participate in decision-making, from activists and business owners to marginalised communities and young people. In the report, he opined that in democratic societies, people should raise their voices to
help root out corruption and demand a safer world for all.
The fact that the country’s corruption rankings fell by 23 notches from 117 in 2017 under the administration of Imran Khan, who came to power on the promise of tackling graft, demonstrates the nation’s leadership’s unwillingness and inability to stem the ever-deepening rot. It also emphasises that the increasing prevalence of corruption is not the only issue here.
The real issue is the anti-corruption legislation and framework put in place to protect the country’s ruling elite, whether they are politicians, bureaucrats, military officials, businessmen, or judges. Furthermore, in the past, these laws were mostly used to persecute political opponents or for ‘political engineering’ by the powers that be.
Opposition politicians are imprisoned on corruption charges for years and subjected to vicious media trials without being convicted or proven guilty until the establishment requires them again. The use of the anti-corruption watchdog NAB to these ends by Gen. Musharraf and the PTI government is proof of this.
Given this, it is not surprising that ordinary citizens have lost faith in the state's anti-corruption efforts. Both the federal and provincial anti-corruption agencies have proven ineffective in their so-called battle against dishonest activities, hampered by political interference, a lack of resources, and a lack of proper training to investigate white-collar crime and convict the corrupt.
Rather, they are perceived, and rightly so, as being involved in financial corruption. As a result, there is a greater social acceptance of the abuse of power for personal financial gain. The current state of affairs is putting new, harsher constraints on the economy and raising the cost of public service delivery, as well as affecting Pakistan’s credibility as a transparent country among its foreign creditors and investors.
To improve its international reputation as a clean and transparent country, Pakistan must reform its anti-corruption laws, stop using government agencies for political purposes, properly train their employees, and ensure greater transparency in public sector decision-making processes.