WEB DESK: Those who never tire of adding tags of corruption to the government may like to think again. The Transparency International thinks just the opposite – its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2015 issued this week places Pakistan among the countries where the perceived levels of public sector corruption have declined. On a scale of 0 (most corrupt) to 100 (least corrupt), Pakistan still figures at 30, which is of course not very salutary, and it has a long way to go yet. But salutary is the perception that the corruption trend in the country has been reversed and it is on the decline.
While in 2012 it stood at 27 and in 2014 at 29 in 2015 it went further up by one more point and stood at 30. And, significantly, this was not happening in any of the fellow South Asian countries, where, according to CPI, the incidence of corruption seemed to be persisting. Pakistan is perceived to be one of the few Third World countries where the governments have succeeded in scoring better, otherwise in many other countries particularly Brazil, Libya and Turkey CPI scored negatively in 2015. A two-thirds countries are below 50 on this scale of 0 to 100.
And the worldwide poor countries lose something like US $1 trillion a year to public sector corruption. Given that the CPI is based on public sector corruption levels, and therefore of prime concern to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), it isn’t out of place that its chairman, Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, has taken pride in this turnaround. Rightly he says: “Pakistan’s positive improvement in CPI ranking proves that initiatives taken by the NAB are showing practical results.”
Even when one may not endorse the plea-bargain policy his claim that the bureau succeeded in recovering Rs 266 billion which, perhaps, was not possible by any other means, merits due recognition. In our dear country it is not easy to catch the big thief, and it may become even more difficult should the bill approved by the Senate’s standing committee ‘to curtail powers of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to disable it from taking up cases of corruption at the provincial level’ become law of the land. The bill was introduced for adoption in the house by PPP’s Senator Taj Haider and opposed by the PML-N Senators; and it is obvious why this variance.
But before elation over this ‘success’ goes to someone’s head, a word of caution is in order – the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) score may well be quite off the mark. It is based on perceptions, and perceptions are quite often independent of realities on the ground. And then the CPI is not the Transparency International’s own research product; it’s a compilation of perceptions and opinion polls conducted by scores of other agencies. How far those agencies could go to discover the levels of corruption in public sector in 168 countries, some as disturbed as Afghanistan and some as secretive as North Korea, is a matter of some intense debate. Then there is this big difference between impression of corruption and proved incidence of corruption. For instance, the NAB is currently dealing with a host of mega corruption cases. But it is yet to be established in the court of law if the accused did commit corruption.
However, a perception has begun to obtain that corruption mafia in Pakistan is on the retreat. For example, it was never as easy as now to get the ‘Fard’ (land-ownership certificate) from the ‘patwari’. Given the ubiquitous presence of electronic media, the call for bureaucratic accountability is holding ground. No doubt, we have yet to go a long way to join those above 50 on the CPI scale but seemingly the march in that direction appears to have begun.
Source: Business Recorder