For an administration scrambling to fend off the devastating fallout from the Panama leaks, the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should gladly welcome the good words said about it, especially from those having a credible voice. The results of a survey carried out by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), which give it a pat on the back, could not have come at a more opportune time. The PILDAT survey finds that the quality of governance has improved in the second year of the PML-N government, which received a score of 44 per cent in the organisation’s governance scorecard. The analysis shows that out of the 27 governance-assessment parameters examined, the government demonstrated improvement in performance in 18 parameters and deterioration in the remaining nine.
Among the areas where its performance was judged to be strongest was foreign policy management for which it received a score of 74 per cent. That is well worth explaining. The governance period under scrutiny is one when the Nawaz Administration worked overtime to cultivate relations with China and secured a grand $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor deal besides hosting the Chinese premier last year. Pakistan also reached out to Iran after a period of relative aloofness when business as usual was not possible because of international sanctions on Tehran. The government received the second-highest score for management of inflation at 65 per cent and third-highest for merit-based recruitments at 63 per cent. Transparency, however, turned out to be its weakest point, earning it a lowly score of 22 per cent. It is no surprise that it fares poorly in this vital area considering the plethora of unresolved corruption cases and scams that our investigative agencies face. One of the surest ways of improving transparency is by getting the reformed, but much-delayed, Right to Information Bill passed. That piece of legislation will open the door for greater transparency in government affairs.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2016.
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