Institutional Decay, Absence of Accountability in Pakistan
INSTITUTIONS are made to strengthen the state as per their assigned role and mandate. Strengthening the state includes; facilitation in the functioning of the state and aiding the masses and ensure its own economic survival while contributing towards national economy.
In Pakistan, there are many national institutions, companies and departments which over the years have proved as burden over the state rather becoming beneficial.
Their performances have been contradictory to their assigned mandate and desired goals. Resultantly, the state of Pakistan suffered on account of incurring huge finances for the sustenance of these institutions at the cost of many other essential national developmental projects and economic development of the state.
For decades now, Pakistan’s national airline (PIA), Pakistan Railways and Pakistan Steel Mills have been a huge burden on the national economy and exchequer of the state.
These were very beneficial departments of Pakistan until the decade of 1980s. Thereafter there have been gradual slow-down and then obliteration to the current level.
There have been similar results of many other governmental departments, institutions and organizations which pose great economic burden on the national economy since their performances fall much below the expectations.
The down-fall of abovementioned departments, companies and national institutions can be attributed to factors like; a) preferring individual interests over national interests, b) systematic corruption and nepotism and c) lack of accountability and good governance.
Since the decade of 1990, there have been involvements of individuals, few families and political elites with vested interests in derailing and damaging the productivity of these national institutions and organizations.
Through illegal ways, these individuals and elites manipulated the management of these institutions through illegal political recruitment and nepotism which caused managerial issues, poor productivity and financial corruption to institutions and the state.
For a long-time there has been no know-how of their ill-practices and damages they caused to national exchequer.
Later, in 1999, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was establishing to trace the massive corruption and those involved into it.
NAB was established to “deal with corruption prevention, raise public awareness, and enforce of anti-corruption measures.
” Unfortunately, there have been no worthwhile achievements of this national institution in the past.
Rather, it has widely become a white elephant or else a centre of corruption in itself and also used as a tool for political victimization of the opponents.
In last over four years there was a debate about accountability of the former ruling families of Pakistan (now in power) and those elites who earned huge money through illegal means.
Nothing could be proved in practical terms, which raised many questions about the NAB.
The biggest question is; either there is an in-built fault in the mandate of NAB or else there is lack of will to implement its legal obligation through a neutral mechanism.
This is indicative from fact that, the tall promises of the previous governments and NAB about recovery of the ill-gotten money from the former ruling class since nothing has been added into the national treasure of Pakistan except arrests and detentions of opponents and later their release.
Rather deciding the previous issues of accountability thousands of new cases and new scandals appeared in the electronic and press media until NAB becoming dysfunctional in July 2022.
There were many charges and scandals against the former Chairman of the NAB. The judicial system of Pakistan is equally tainted and compromised to the level of dissatisfaction of masses.
Every day, Pakistani masses helplessly witnesses all these on television channels with allegations and counter allegations without any punitive actions against wrongdoers.
NAB’s failure to recover the ill-gotten money has enabled the already tainted lot to hit back and blame other institutions, Government and the state, creating a chaos and questioning the justice system.
The studious minds contemplate the entire happening as a stage-managed drama for diversion of people’s attention and to pass the time without any progressive ending.
This stage-managed drama is being repeated with new faces and through new strategies without a realization that, it has damaging effects on; state, society, economy and above all the prevailing political system of Pakistan.
Each government would like to pass its five years tenure while accusing the earlier one and doing nothing by itself.
Irrespective of their political affiliations, the masses of Pakistan are rapidly losing trust on the current political system, accountability and justice system.
The repeated trends of; bad governance, corruption, lack of meritocracy, injustice, politicization of accountability process and un-affordable price hike (inflation) have created chaos and a sense of insecurity among the masses of Pakistan.
Indeed, a stage has reached where majority of the masses find it hard and difficult to meet their basic and essential necessities.
Leaving aside the imported goods, the masses find it difficult to purchase the home-grown national agricultural product of Pakistan.
Then, away from lavish way of living, the basic necessities of life are not available to common people at an unaffordable price.
The institutional decay, lack of basic justice and absence of an effective system of accountability in Pakistan has created uncertainty among the masses and chaotic situation in the country.
This serial happening in the country at the hands of successive ruling elite is an irony indeed.
The worst part of this practice is that rulers and elite class still has no realization as how the state and its institutions are being ruined through a systematic process.
The government must concentrate on the essentials issues of governance, justice, efficient economic management and availability of basic necessities of life at affordable price.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.