Corruption index

Editorial Board
Monday, Feb 06, 2023

The Berlin-based anti-corruption organization, Transparency International, has published the latest Corruption Perception Index. According to the index, Pakistan has shown no improvement since last year and is on the same level – 140 out of 180 countries. However, its overall CPI score has dipped to 27 out of 100 from the previous 28. The country’s ranking got worse during the PTI government when it slipped from the 117th position it was in during the previous PML-N government in 2017 to the 140th rank. The Corruption Perception Index measures public and organizations’ perception of corruption in the public sector rather than corruption as a whole. These perceptions are, however, important.

Most analysts and experts say that the majority of people are affected by petty corruption and that the policy of a good government should be to deal with this as well as corruption higher up the ranks. In this, the PTI had come to power mainly on its slogan of ‘corruption’ – meaning that every other party was corrupt. However, its accountability process has been seen as more witch hunt and less serious reform.

The chief of Transparency International, in his comments on the CPI 2022 report, has stressed that a more open and democratic decision-making process can help root out corruption. This is not an easy task in a country like Pakistan where decision-making is anything but open and inclusive. Arguably, more empowered local governments can help change this, given their more immediate proximity to businesses, citizens and civil society. This closeness makes them more accountable and any graft harder to disguise. Local leaders in constant touch with ground realities also have the best chance of detecting where corruption is taking place and identifying those responsible. The CPI index for Pakistan also gives concrete evidence to what several observers have already pointed out: the accountability as a tool for political vengeance approach did no favours to the anti-corruption effort. The whole agenda became less credible, tainted by allegations of political bias and less likely to produce results. The previous PTI government had approached corruption in a top-down, centralized and politicized manner. Those serious about the problem will need to do the exact opposite in order to eradicate corruption at all tiers of our society.