Essay Topic: Crisis of Good Governance in Pakistan: Need for Reforms and Institution Building
Table of Contents
- Rise of civic life
- Emergence of structural governments
- Situation in Pakistan
Nature of Crisis of Good Governance in Pakistan
- Rampant corruption
- Obstructions in the devolution of power
- Mounting debt
- Proliferation of poverty
- Low literacy levels
- Pronounced health sector predicaments
- Struggling energy sector
- Absence of rule of law
- Deplorable security situation
Steps for Reforms and Institution Building
- Incorporation of checks and balances
- Promotion of democratic norms
- De-politicization of institutions
- Establishment of rule of law
- Long term planning and implementation
- Increase in spending on social sectors
- Meeting the energy demand
Crisis of Good Governance in Pakistan: Need for Reforms and Institution Building
Ever since the emergence of human civilization, people have relied upon leaders to guide them in every affair of their lives. These leaders were expected to protect the life and land of the people in times of war and ensure their survival in times of peace. Initially they were men of strength or simply clan chiefs. However; with time more elaborate methods were devised for the selection of leaders. The Greeks were the first people to use popular vote to decide on matters of governance and society. This, later, morphed into the modern system of democratic election of governments that prevails till today in most of the world. Pakistan too has had a democratic system of government ever since its independence. However; governments in Pakistan have not been successful in delivering to the nation. To begin with; successive governments in Pakistan have been marred by the scourge of corruption. Similarly; power has not been allowed to devolve down to the grass root levels. Moreover; we have consistently failed to gain economic self sufficiency and thus have amassed a massive debt. Also; poor literacy levels and substandard health sector have contributed to the proliferation of poverty. Likewise; in the recent years Pakistan has been in the grip of a stifling energy crisis. In the same way; law has always been flaunted by the influential segments of society. Finally; the population has suffered immensely due to the lax security situation in the country. Still; in context of reform in governance there is light at the end of the tunnel. Firstly; a strict and indiscriminate policy of checks and balances has to be formulated and implemented. Secondly; democratic norms have to be promoted in all government institutions. Thirdly; institutions need to be ridden of political influence. Fourthly; rule of law needs to be established. Fifthly; governments need to look at their own past tenures and formulate plans for the long run. Sixthly; there is a need to increase the budget towards the social sector in order to produce lasting change. Lastly; there is a dire need to plug the energy demand gap in order to rejuvenate the industrial sector. There is a crisis of governance in Pakistan which needs practicable steps to bring about reform and institution building in the country.
To begin with; rampant corruption is the prime example of crisis of good governance in Pakistan. The country relies mostly on indirect taxes and foreign aid in order to run the day to day affairs of the government. However; due to corruption most of this money never reaches the people it is intended for. Pakistan has suffered direly due to this menace. For instance; according to the United Nations’ Corruption Perception Index 2015 Pakistan ranked at 127th position. Corruption has not only made the population less trustful of the government but also furthered the economic strain on it. Therefore; crisis of good governance is evident from the rampant corruption that plagues our country.
Similarly; one of the biggest evidence of crisis of good governance in Pakistan is the existence of various obstructions in the devolution of power. Devolution of power is considered as the essence of democracy and good governance; it enables the people to remain in direct contact with their governments. Pakistan has always struggled to formulate and implement a system of pure local government. For example, local governments have only been formed thrice in Pakistan, and only one of them, the 2015 local governments, was formed during a democratic governments. Political, economic, elitist and social interests have always prevented the devolution of power to reach the grass-root levels. Hence; obstruction in the devolution of power indicates the crisis of good governance in Pakistan.
Likewise; a mounting debt is a critical element of the crisis of good governance in Pakistan. To start with; all countries which depend on some form of debt in order to run their day to day affairs use it in most efficient way. Moreover; grants and loans can, in some cases, provide an impetus to stalled economies. In Pakistan, however, we have never used the grants and loans to rejuvenate our industry and domestic production. As a result we have been increasingly resourcing to international organizations and countries to meet our expanses. For instance; according to the State Bank of Pakistan the national debt of Pakistan at the end of 2015 was 66.457 billion dollars. To sum up; one of the key factors in the crisis of good governance in Pakistan is a mounting debt.
In the same way; the proliferation of poverty is one of the biggest manifestations of crisis of good governance in Pakistan. A smaller number of people living below poverty line is considered a good indicator of the economic condition of a country. Pakistan has fared very badly in this area, right from the day of our independence. For example; according to Pakistan Economic Survey 2014-15 if $2 is considered minimum daily wage, then half of Pakistan’s population lives below poverty line. This staggering number of poor people not only burdens the government but also is vulnerable to the machinations of criminals and terrorists. So far our successive governments have failed to improve the conditions of these impoverished people. In sum; the crisis of good governance is visible from the proliferation of poverty in Pakistan.
Moreover; one of the biggest manifestations of crisis of good governance is the low literacy levels in Pakistan. All developed countries boast of high levels of literacy. Pakistan, on the other hand, has one of the lowest literacy rate in the world. For Instance; according to Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey 2013-14, literacy rate in Pakistan is only 58%. This is chiefly due to the meager allocation of budget for education. According to Pakistan Economic Survey 2014-15, we spend just 2.1% of the GDP on education. In conclusion; crisis of good governance is displayed by the low literacy levels in Pakistan.
Also; crisis of good governance is evident from the struggling energy sector of Pakistan. In this age of industry and production, energy is essential for a country to compete with others. Pakistan’s industry, however, has been almost completely stalled by the shortage of power. For example; according to the Ministry of Power, Pakistan’s peak energy shortfall is 4,500 MW. As a result; a large number of industries in Pakistan has either closed down or shifted their business elsewhere. Likewise; the people have had to suffer immensely especially during the months of summer. To conclude; a struggling energy sector is a key factor in the crisis of good governance in Pakistan.
In the same manner; absence of rule of law is one of the biggest evidence of the crisis of good governance in Pakistan. The first and foremost responsibility of a government is to provide its citizens with protection and justice. Pakistan has failed miserably in this sector. Here justice is not served on an equal basis; people with influence, money or power can easily dodge the process of law. For instance; the rich can always pay blood money in order to escape the punishment of murder. Moreover; in cases where justice is provided, the process is either too expensive or too protracted. Therefore; the crisis of good governance in Pakistan is shown by the absence of rule of law in our country.
Finally; a deplorable security situation is a further affirmation of the crisis of good governance in Pakistan. For the last decade, Pakistan has been in the grip of a deadly wave of terrorism. We have had to pay heavily in this war against terrorism, both in terms of money and the lives lost. For example; according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), 80,000 Pakistanis have been killed as a result of terrorist activities. As a result; our economy and society, both have taken a beating. Foreign investment has waned, business has closed and schools have been attacked and bombed. Hence; crisis of good governance is proven by the deplorable security situation in Pakistan.
In the above lines the essay has discussed the various causes of crisis of good governance in Pakistan. In the following paragraphs it will describe a few solutions for reforms and institution building.
Firstly; incorporation of checks and balances is very important in order to bring about reforms and institution building. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Therefore; it is essential that every echelon of a government is subjected to strict accountability. For instance; western countries have strict laws of accountability, which is one of the main factors in their good governance. Moreover; checks and balances make governments more responsible towards the people. It also helps in strengthening institutions. Therefore; it is essential to incorporate checks and balances in order to bring about reforms and institution building.
Secondly; democratic norms have to be promoted in Pakistan, for reforms and institution building to occur. Democracy is the form of government in which the population itself chooses their rulers. Therefore; the elected are very attentive to the aspirations of the populace. For example; in western democratic countries people readily reject the elected officials who fail to live up to their expectations. However; if democracy is to become effective, it must be extended to all levels of society and all institutions of a country. A lack of this practice is exactly why democracy has failed to deliver in Pakistan. To sum up; for reforms and institution building to take hold, democratic norms must be promoted in Pakistan.
Thirdly; to bring reforms and institution building in Pakistan, de-politicization of institutions has to be made a priority. To begin with; administrative, military, law-enforcement and judicial institutions are established so that they may work for the welfare of the people. Therefore; these institutions must be allowed to work without political interference. In Pakistan, however, they have been used more often than not by the incumbent governments to protect their own interests. For instance; police has often been used to register false cases against political opponents. Moreover; officials hesitate to perform their duties according to the dictates of the law, out of fear of transfer or suspension by their political bosses. In conclusion; institutions need to be de-politicized, in order to constitute reforms and institution building in Pakistan.
Fourthly; rule of law must be established in order to bring about reforms and institution building in Pakistan. Free and fair justice is the first prerequisite of a functioning society. In Pakistan there is widespread discontent over the want of justice. Strict observance of law makes the governments bound to the guidelines of the constitution. Similarly; it ensures that all segments of the society are being accorded equal rights and opportunities. Moreover; it enables institutions to perform their functions according to the rules of business, free from the fear of persecution. To sum up; in order to initiate reforms and institution building in Pakistan, establishment of rule of law is imperative.
Fifthly; in order to bring reforms and institution building, spending on the social sector must be increased. Spending on social sector is one of the biggest indicators by which a country’s economic and social well being is measured. For example; Japan has the highest life expectancy and literacy levels on Earth, which is due to a large allocation of their budget to the social sector. In Pakistan there is a dire need to improve the literacy levels and health sector. It will not only equip the population with knowledge but also give them the right skill sets to work towards the betterment of the country. Also; it will help in improving the health condition of the people. In sum; spending on social sector must be increased for engendering reforms and institution building.
Lastly; the energy demand of the country must be met in order to engender reforms and institution building. Energy has become the most important commodity of the 21st century. All developed countries rely on energy to maintain their economic superiority. In order to rejuvenate its economy, Pakistan needs to meet its energy demand for good. This will not only create jobs but also enable the government to focus on other pressing issues. Long-term planning and development is the key to ending the scourge of energy shortage. Hence; for reforms and institution building in Pakistan, energy demand must be met.
In short, humans have always yearned to live in groups. They have appointed, from amongst themselves, people of the right caliber and aptitude to guide them. At the outset, only rudimentary methods were available for the selection of rulers and often they were chosen on the basis of their physical prowess. Crude forms of popular vote developed into the highly systemized elections through which the majority of the governments are formed in the world today. Whatever the method of selection, governments are expected to cater to the needs of their electors. Pakistan, although largely a democratic country, is amongst those where governments have largely failed to deliver. Firstly; the scourge of corruption plagues every echelon of our government. Secondly; the powerful and the influential have always championed a centralized form of governance; therefore dissuading any attempt to devolve power. Thirdly; our reliance on foreign loans has created a mountain of a debt. Fourthly; we have the worst educational and health sectors in the world and more than half of our population is living under poverty line. Fifthly; there has been a pronounced shortage of energy for the last decade. Sixthly; there has only been a semblance of the rule of law. Lastly; social and economic activities have stalled as a result of the lax security situation in the country. That being said; the situation is not irrevocable. To begin with; strict accountability has to be instituted at all levels of government and within institutions. Also; both society and governments have to be made more democratic in their conduct. Similarly; interference in government institutions, especially political interference, needs to be stemmed. In the same way; rule of law needs to be established and practiced. Likewise; we need to shift our focus towards the long term and plan well ahead into the future for lasting impacts. Moreover; a much larger allocation must be made from the budget for social sector such as education and health. Finally; we need to fulfill the energy demand and end the energy shortages for good. This essay has showed how there is a crisis of good governance in Pakistan and concluded with a few suggestions for reforms and institution building.
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