The Rule of Law Index 2020 places Pakistan at 120th of the total 128 countries of the world, regressing by one more point than we were in 2019. The Rule of Law Index Framework classifies performance of countries based on the outcomes which the rule of law could result in, if it were to be there.
The framework sets two principles that regulate relation between the state and the citizenry. The first principle of relationship studies whether the law imposes limitations on the exercise of power by the state and its agents while the second principle studies how the state fulfils its basic functions towards its people so that public interest is served with fairness. Combining the two factors, the framework culminates in calling the rule of law as the collective respect and protection of the fundamental rights of the people.
As per the index, the worst performing sectors in the realm of rule of law in Pakistan turn out to be order and security, system of civil justice, the state of fundamental rights, regulatory enforcement and absence of corruption.
In the factor of order and security, the country has been positioned at 126 off 128 countries of the world with Nigeria and Afghanistan following at positions 127 and 128. The measuring basis for order and security as per the framework are how effectively the crime is controlled, measures for controlling the people from armed conflict with each other and how effective is the governance system in limiting the people from resorting to armed conflict to settle their mutual grievances.
The next worst performing sector is how effective civil justice system is where the country is placed at 118th out of 128 positions. The performance in this sector means how effectively the people can access and afford justice without having to incur heavy fees, facing procedural barricades, etc. Further sub-factors which evaluate the civil justice system are the absence of unreasonable delay in justice, the element of corruption, absence of government or political influence and the presence of alternate dispute resolution mechanism.
The performance in the realms of fundamental rights and regulatory enforcement position the country at 115th out of 128 positions. The factor of regulatory enforcement presents a graphic summary of the government’s performance and the efficacy of its governance system. The performance is measured through the sub-factors of how effectively government regulations are enforced, how quickly the government reacts to certain issues that call its writ in question, and how far fairness and due process of law is adopted in making these reactions, and if wronged, whether a system of compensation exists or otherwise.
The performance in the realm of fundamental rights is measured through sub-factors of absence of any kind of discrimination, right to life and security of a person, due process in managing criminal suspects of the society, guarantee as to freedom of opinion, expression and religion, freedom of assembly and association and insurance of the fundamental rights of labour.
In the factor of absence of corruption, the country has regressed to 116th position out of 128 in 2020. The performance in this sector is an interesting study that is based on whether the politicians, civil servants, officials of the judiciary, and officers of the army use their public offices for personal gains or otherwise.
The Rule of Law Index 2020 must not be taken as another sinister and wicked global design to tarnish our chauvinistic aspirations. It is an analytical dissection into our overall state performance in the triplet realms of judiciary, executive and the legislature which require a collective and not a stratified approach in redressing our institutions to deliver the ultimate good, which is serving the public interest.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2021.