By Dr. Quratul Ain Malik (ITG)
Good governance is a prerequisite for social harmony, public order, political stability,
economic prosperity and certainty about future. It delivers the fruit of progress and
development evenly to all and sundry. Good governance is required at all levels of society
Essentials of good governance
1. Promotion of national cohesion
2. National integration
3. Institutional supremacy
4. Independent judiciary
5. Constitutional supremacy
6. Rule of law
7. Political stability
8. Educational opportunities
9. Socio-economic development
10. Equal distribution of resources
11. Welfare state with provision of social securities
12. Strong writ of the government on all fronts
Situation of governance in Pakistan
1. Forces of disintegration — stronger than forces of cohesion
2. Weak writ of the government
3. Absence of independent judiciary
4. No rule of law
5. Political instability
6. Interprovincial conflicts
7. Unequal distribution of resources
8. Pakistan presenting a picture of extreme bad governance on all national fronts
1. Parliament, a toothless tiger
2. Political instability due to constant military interference
3. Issue of provincialism on revenue, resources and demand of provincial autonomy
1. Bureaucratic hold on all institutions
2. Political interference on bureaucracy
3. Corruption, mother of all evils
4. Absence of culture of accountability
5. Mismanagement of resources
6. Pakistan, a soft state because of inability of implementation of policies due to lack of
1. Fragile economy – FDI shrinking on account of terrorism and political instability
2. Crisis of energy, food, water
3. Corruption from top to bottom creating burden on the government exchequer
1. Poverty – 40 per cent population living below the poverty line (UN reports)
2. Over population -16.6 crore ( Economic Survey of Pakistan 2009)
3. Illiteracy leading to socio-economic backwardness
1. Pakistan is in dire need of truly capable leadership
2. Strong anti-corruption campaigns strengthening National Accountability Bureau
3. Strict accountability of all government servants in particular and common masses in
4. Investment in socio-economic development
5. Allocation of seven per cent GDP for education
6. Three per cent for population control
7. Three per cent for poverty alleviation
8. Generation of new employment opportunities
9. Equal distribution of resources
10. Ensuring freedom of press
Click here for more essays
THE historical judgement on governments is harsh. It says that governments have many butchers and few shepherds. However there is increasing interest in good governance. What is good governance? It is generally understood in its narrow meanings. An attempt is made here to present some of its less-known features.
Accountability, transparency and equality before the law are well-known attributes of a good government. There is rightly more stress on corruption. What Senator Cato said about Rome then is true of Pakistan today: “Simple thieves lie in prison and in stock; public thieves walk abroad in gold and silk.”
Corruption leads to misallocation of resources. For example, it could lead to misallocation of investment and public infrastructure away from their most productive use. It can also lead to misallocation of talent as self-interested individuals seek rewards in occupations where returns are inflated by corrupt practices.
Self-interested individuals choose to enter public life in order to capture rents. In its insidious form corruption tramples on individual rights at the hands of public servants. Pakistan was ranked 127th among 177 countries in 2013, by Transparency International’s corruption index.
Is poverty of nations the cause or effect of corruption?
It is argued that systems which are more open to trade cause less corruption. Rent-seeking by public servants is minimised. The licensing regimes in our country used to generate a phenomenal amount of corruption.
A strong correlation is found between corruption, the level of income and the enforcement of property rights. Rich countries may not be totally free of corruption but the incidence of corruption is fairly low compared to poor countries. Is poverty of nations the cause or effect of corruption? Poverty has many causes. In the early stages of development, however, corruption can prove a big bane.
Enforcement of property rights is another big issue. The existence of laws does not necessarily lead to enforcement of laws. Pakistani court procedures, the expense involved, both legal and illegal, to secure rights, and delays in adjudicating cases, are unbearable.
Transparency in the government’s dealings is another crucial aspect in the context of good governance. Corruption takes place in the shadows, away from the public gaze. The need is to throw light on those dark corners. In this respect, the Right to Information Act 2013 of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is worth appreciating.
Moving to the larger context of good government, the standard economic notion is social welfare. The approach can be applied to policies, political processes and institutions. It provides an intellectual underpinning for ideas of government operating in the public interest. In the traditional welfare economic model, good government is largely identified with reference to efficiency and distribution.
Efficiency requires making a choice from a set of alternatives which is most feasible. Feasibility requires taking into account both technological feasibility, budget balance, and so on.
The welfare economic model can be thought of as generating ‘rules for good governance’ using systematic model of the economy and what drives human well-being. This approach displaced the classical approach to the issue which merely catalogued the functions of the government as protecting the society from violence and invasion, establishing an exact administration of justice and the duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works and institutions.
Good policies require good persons to devise and implement those policies. Where will a country get this rare breed from? The modern answer to this is democracy. Democracies are run by politicians. The argument in favour of democracy is that the main sanction for poor performance is electoral — those who perform badly will not be re-elected.
This is a fallacious argument particularly in a country like ours. Those who get elected strive to make more and more money out of their positions whether in government or in opposition, to get re-elected next time. Politics is a money game. How many mega scams of our politicians have we proved and punished? There is growing disenchantment with democracy even in the democratic West.
Information provided by media and civil society is important in thinking about electoral accountability. We should draw a distinction between formal and real accountability. A politician is formally accountable if there is some institutional structure, apart from elections, that allows the possibility of some action against the culprit in the event that he does a poor job. But there is no guarantee that such accountability mechanisms are used effectively. Real accountability requires that those who hold politicians to account have sufficient information to make the system work.
Governments have been variously characterised as democracies, dictatorships, plutocracies, aristocracies and ‘kakistocracies’. The latter refers to when the worst persons are in power. It is left to the imagination of readers in which category they place the government of Pakistan.
The writer is a former federal secretary.
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2015