Imran Khan, not Nawaz Sharif, deserves credit for Pakistan’s decline in corruption

Published: February 3, 2017

The current government’s boastful self-projection is in contrast to their performance in curbing corruption in Pakistan.

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.

Kashif Shaikh

Kashif Shaikh

The writer holds Masters in governance and public policy from Germany and works in the development sector. He tweets @s_kashif8 (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ahmar

    “”If there is anyone who deserves credit for reduction in corruption in Pakistan, it’s Imran Khan””

    Imran Khan also deserves credit for the moon landings, ending WWII, creation of Pakistan, solving Kashmir issue and finding the cure for cancer…somewhere in the future.

    PTI supporters are funny. Deluded and silly…but funny nonetheless.Recommend

  • sterry

    The only thing Imran Khan has done is slowed down progress and shown that anti social behavior in the form of dharnas should be tolerated. The current government has improved stability, security, made economic progress and is building the infrastructure to propel the country forward. All Western media and financial houses say that Pakistan is the fastest growing Muslim nation and a democracy to boot. The credit for this cannot go to Imran Khan because he believes in dharna style mob rule and disrupting the system instead of working in a democratic model. It is Nawaz Sharif and his government who have shown that by improving a country’s overall picture, corruption will go down as it has.Recommend

  • pervaiz nasir

    this artical is example of BUGZE Muavia and not Hube AliRecommend

  • Sardar khan

    True. Its Imran Khan who put his own political life at risk to raise this issue. He is gone all the way in public awareness against corruption even strip his own member of the party in KPK to empower ordinary civilian. The PML-N could not achieve this (TI) figure in the last forty year what IK achieve in the last four years. Absolutely IK and his team are working hard and deserve the credit. Recommend

  • Jazib Haider

    All the good things happened in PK are directly or indirectly related to IK. PTI supporters please stop telling stories.Recommend

  • xnain

    It’s very hard to succeed in something but far easier to steal the creditRecommend

  • Sane

    Very correct that Imran Khan is the only person in Pakistan who lime lighted corruption as national issue. Panama issue was also escalated by him so that supreme court is hearing the case. All other political parties in Pakistan (except JI) are collaborators and supporters to each other in corruption. They have destroyed this country.Recommend

  • Sane

    You version shall be well supported by Indians, being the enemy of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    Ah yes. I am an enemy of Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif is an enemy of Pakistan. Everyone is corrupt except Captain Sahab. If it weren’t for Imran Khan’s dharna politics, Pakistan would have broken up and we’d all be slaves under the Hindu Raj by now.

    I was watching ARY the other day and the reporters criticized CPEC saying its a total loss project and another corruption story of Sharif family. Ten minutes later the same hosts gave complete credit of CPEC to Army as it started under Musharraf, according to them.

    So if CPEC is a success, its Pak Army’s success. If the project fails it is all the fault of pro-India Nawaz government. DOUBLETHINK at its best.Recommend