Imran Khan, not Nawaz Sharif, deserves credit for Pakistan’s decline in corruption
A recent Transparency International (TI) report has received eerie enthusiasm from various quarters of the government who are otherwise exceptionally reluctant to pursue any serious reforms to combat corruption in the country. The celebration is so exuberant that it has left many wondering in amazement.
For the past few days, since the report has been released, the government of this poor country has spent millions of tax payers’ money in the form of print, electronic and social media advertisements to project themselves as Pakistan’s saviour against corruption using the Transparency report as evidence.
This raises an important question: Who deserves credit for the decline in corruption in Pakistan?
First, let’s understand what Pakistan’s score on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) indicates. The good news is that Pakistan has improved its ranking by nine positions. According to the CPI, Pakistan’s score has increased from 30 to 32 points, as compared to 2015. Of course, there is a lot that the country should celebrate in this positive achievement. After all, in a corruption-riddled world, Pakistan is better than one-third of the countries and is improving its ranking. In fact, this is the first time ever that Pakistan has jumped from the lowest one-third countries on the CPI to the middle one-third countries in 2016. As compared to 2012, the rating has improved by 14 points, which is unprecedented since TI started issuing the report in 1995. Today, Pakistan is also doing better than many of its South Asian counterparts.
However, the current government’s boastful self-projection is in contrast to their performance in curbing corruption in Pakistan. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) kicked off the 2013 General Elections with claims of “dragging the corrupt through streets of Pakistan”, but the fact is that since 2013, there hasn’t been any systematic move towards taking measures that stamp out corruption from the country.
Can there be a fair, just, transparent and accountable system, where the ruling elite regularly pay lip service to transparency and accountability but only to an extent where it doesn’t arrive at its door steps?
Can PML-N tell us what kind of mechanism has been erected to evolve the transparent system for government entities and departments? Why has no whistle-blower protection law been adopted in Sindh, Balochistan, and the centre where the PML-N rules? What changes have been made in the procurement laws? If this government has done nothing to reduce opportunities for corruption, then there is no moral justification to claim credit either.
If there is anyone who deserves credit for reduction in corruption in Pakistan, it’s Imran Khan.
Imran, through his persistent focus on corruption, has created a societal discourse against corruption in Pakistan. This, in turn, has stimulated a behavioural change amongst the general public. Till a couple of years ago, corruption was largely an upper and upper middle class concern, with only a handful of individuals disgusted by the rampant corruption. But Imran, with his anti-corruption movement, has brought the discourse against corruption to the real victims of corruption who are now empowered enough to raise their voice.
In doing so, Imran has created sufficient awareness that people are now willing to question why they should pay a bribe to obtain services such as electricity, health, education, license, pension, and in dealing with police. When the demand increases for anti-corruption, corruption reduces. After all, in every corrupt bargain, there is always a giver and a taker. The taker can only take if there is a giver willing to give.
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