Transparency International lauded Pakistan’s judiciary as well as the anti-graft body National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for taking some action against corruption. However, it is not enough to develop a system of accountability in the country.
A report released by Transparency International, titled “Fighting Corruption in South Asia: Building Accountability”, states that many agencies need their government’s consent to investigate suspected graft cases, while others face massive political interference during their probes.
“The region is characterised by a vicious cycle in which a highly elitist and unaccountable political culture remains largely unchallenged because the very actors who can bring those in power to task are being systematically silenced,” said Transparency International Asia-Pacific director Srirak Plipat.
The study, released in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, draws on the findings of research on anti-corruption efforts in Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, analysing almost 70 institutions across the six countries.
It focused on four aspects: the right to information, laws to protect whistleblowers, anti-corruption watchdogs, and building a culture of accountability in South Asia.
Moreover, the report tabulates data to assess to what extent are a country’s citizens able to participate in selecting their government, and to what extent is there freedom of expression, freedom of association, and a free media?
Based on a scale of 0-100, Pakistan was just under 30 in 1996, but by the year 2012, the freedom of expression and participation was at 23.
And similar was the case with the six countries of South Asia studied in the report. With technological advancement, it is surprising to witness a decrease in freedom of expression in countries.
The Transparency International study appreciated that a new law for the right to information is under discussion, while the right to information is non-existent in Sri Lanka. However, it adds, “Even if it is in place, public agencies do not respond to citizen requests for information effectively and systematically.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2014.