Improving governance

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Amna Ejaz Rafi
GOVERNANCE is to manage a country’s economic, political and administrative affairs. Governance has a pivotal role in the life of a nation; it is an inevitable phenomenon for the smooth working of state machinery, it can lead a nation to glory and can also make it fall. State structures responsible to ensure governance are Judiciary, Executive and Legislature. In a broader perspective, governance is the way in which individuals and institutions – public and private – manage their affairs. Political stability, rule of law and public participation in policy making and implementation are the essence of good governance. At the urban and rural levels, local officials, landlords, associations of farmers, trade unions, NGOs, religious leaders, land mafia and powerful families influence governance. Besides, media, international donors, multi-national corporations also have a say in the decision-making process. Seeing the prevailing situation in Pakistan, the picture is bleak with rising challenges of poverty, energy crisis, unemployment, law & order and corruption.
As per the findings of the annual Corruption Perceptions Index, released by Transparency International “Pakistan ranks at 116 of 176 countries, included in the index for the year 2016”. The father of the nation referred to corruption as “poison” (speech to the constituent assembly, Aug 11, 1947). Unfortunately, the corruption in Pakistan is rampant at all segments of the society. The tradition of nepotism and political recruitments has spawned a culture of “uncontrolled corruption”, thereby, the working environment discourages honesty and compliance to duty. The deteriorating conditions of agricultural and industrial sectors has led to unemployment. The educated jobless youth out of frustration, indulge in crime and other evils.
To bring an end to the corrupt practices and to promote the equitable, accountable and democratic norms and to end the mal-governance requires legislation followed by effective implementation/enforcement. Parallel to this should be an independent judicial system in which, the dispensation of justice must be irrespective of class, creed and religion. Stable economic growth is also one of the major components of good governance. Government should create an investment friendly environment in order to boost up the economy and industrial activity. A major area of reforms in Pakistan is to create space for the growth of new entrants in the private sector by removing the bureaucratic constraints and smooth operations.
Law and order situation should be made conducive and encouraging for foreign investors, so that the FDI may be enhanced for the ultimate benefit of the nation and the country at large. Private sector participation needs to be encouraged at all levels. The objective should be to create a conducive environment wherein both the public and private services can function side by side, and contribute towards the development of the country. Also, to further rule out the uneven allocation of resources, and ensure the proper utilization of resources at the grass root level, the federal government has to keep a watch over the functioning of the local/provincial governments, but this should not be tantamount to interference. In Pakistan, the tax system lacks fairness. There needs to be a continuity in the budgeting policies. The projects undertaken during one government’s tenure should be completed even if the new government takes over. Loans to start mega projects should be made public and should be accepted after a debate has been conducted and consensus reached. This would enhance the public’s confidence in the government.
Education is another area which needs to be focused. Imparting education and creating awareness among the masses can bring a positive change in the development, thus, contributing immensely towards good governance. The syllabi taught in schools should cover the religious, historical and cultural aspects. While the sentiments of provincialism and sectarianism should be negated, with an aim to make the society more tolerant, moderate and progressive. Lastly media highlights the policies of government or criticises its malpractices; the projection should be balanced and should not result in maligning the image of Pakistan.
— The writer is Researcher at Islamabad Policy Research Institute, a think-tank based in Islamabad.
Email:amna.e.rafi@gmail.com

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