Crumbling State Institutions of Pakistan!

Strong institutions that mushrooms good governance and maintain rule of law help the natural conflicts within a society to be resolved peacefully by exercising state sovereignty and participatory governance. Developing legitimate and broad based strong institutions are vital instruments for the sustainability of peace and development in a society rather than complete removal of conflicts from a society. Hence we come to know that strong institutions are the building blocks for development of a country and it is vital to prescribe institutional reforms for achieving development. Pakistan is faced with multifaceted development issues that need to be dealt with an iron hand. However, in the status quo the gravest development challenge for Pakistan is the existence of weak institutions. Numerous development efforts h ave brutally failed in Pakistan because of the lack of institutions having the ability to sustain the policies. Pakistan is in a dire need of reforming and strengthening the state institutions which play a significant role in ensuring human security, maintaining economic sovereignty and good governance. Peaceful nations having a firm backbone of strong institutions that are governed on principles of transparency and fairness provide a favorable platform for the successful implementation of development strategies.

Good governance that comes through strong and independent institutions, is a prerequisite for ensuring human development .It guarantees well-being and security of its very own people and generates an atmosphere conducive to development and prosperity. On the other hand, weak institutions beget bad governance causing social crisis. Unfortunately, there has been a little effort for building institutions with a stable footing in Pakistan due to which it is suffering from rampant corruption, lack of transparency, absence of accountability, political instability, and poor law & order situation . Owing to weak institutions education, health, civic services, agricultural infrastructure have suffered and are all in poor state. The citizens are not able to fulfill even their basic social needs. Law and ordered situation is deteriorating and people are being robbed of their basic rights, even the right to live. The state of law & order that has worsened over time scare the investors away from the country thus severely harming the economy.

The prevalence of corruption is considered to be the most threatening damaging effect of weak institutions that ultimately results in the mushrooming of lawlessness, being the biggest hindrance for development. The lack of impartial and independent accountability has resulted in the growth of this monster. The most vital tragedies that Pakistan is faced with in the present status quo is the absence of impartial accountability at all levels of the public and private sectors.  Accountability is a significant instrument of good governance – the rulers and the institutions of the state are ac countable to people likewise. But, it is very rare to find it in the weak institutional set-up found in Pakistan where politicians and other state officials while exercising their power make illegal appointments in various public offices. Thus compromising merit for the sake of vested interests. Due to weak institutions that lead to poor governance, the country in spite of having vast natural resources, has now reached stagflation thus hampering growth and development.

The police force in Pakistan that is often lethargic in performing the assigned tasks becomes callous and disinterested when ordinary citizens are concerned but effectively manages protocol of the political elites. Consequently law and order situation suffers at the hand of police officials that enjoy political patronage. Another example is that of the revenue department, which frequently introduces new schemes for tax amnesty for incentivizing powerful people to voluntarily bring themselves within the tax net. The issue with the current institutions is that they are not completely autonomous in their power of discretion to bring the criminals to justice and inquire the cases of big guns, may it be civil servants, police or otherwise. It is highly imperative to de-politicize the structures of these institutions. These institutions should be given absolute autonomy to bring the corrupt people before the law

Pakistan’s development challenges, suggest that every single crisis faced by the country including low tax mobilization, energy shortages, a lack of law and order, rampant corruption, losses of public sector enterprises, poor delivery of education and health services, and stagnating trade an d economic growth can be traced back to institutional weaknesses.

The prevalent economic and social development crisis that Pakistan is facing today cannot be resolved by quick-fix technocratic solutions. Since the problems are rooted deep into the prevailing institutional systems of the country, the solution mechanisms would indeed be gradual as they will be aiming at re-engineering of the state institutions in Pakistan. A country’ s legal system, with all its laws, regulating processes and institutions through which they are applied, is vital for addressing corruption, just as it is for resolving civil conflicts, enforcing property rights, and defining the limits of state power. Thus it is imperative for Pakistani government to strengthen its legal framework. The provision of justice in Pakistan has become time-consuming, expensive, complicated and unnecessarily layered. The number of judges should be substantially increased in each province for improving access to justice for all the citizens. Institutional changes nee d to be made regarding the selection process and promotion rules to ensure merit. High quality law departments of international standards should be introduced in the universities in order to enhance the quality of the candidates who aspires to be future judicial officers. The civil society and media in Pakistan should also play a crucial role in the creation and maintenance of an atmosphere that discourages corruption.

Secondly it is very significant to create institutional links between various levels of the Parliament and specialized research bodies, think tanks, universities and leading intellectuals who can be requested by the Parliament for advice on key legislative issues where specialized expertise is required. Government departments should be encouraged to produce annual reports on their activities, achievements, and financial outcomes for making impact evaluation easier. Thirdly the political parties should institute more democracy within to minimize the chances of corruption and fraudulent activities. High concentrations of power in the hands of a single individual, the party leader, is detrimental to the essence of democratic governance. The 18th amendment has devolved the administrative, legal, and financial authority from the federal to the provincial governments. However, this devolution remains incomplete. The power as well as the resources has not been delegated further down to local governments, where most of the interaction between an ordinary citizen and the government takes place. Attempts to strengthen democratic governance are bound to fail in the absence of the decentralization of decision making & powers, and de-concentration of resources.

Lastly the administrative machinery of the civil services as a whole has be en subdued. Reforms in the police, administrative services, land management need to be undertaken to set the country in the right direction. Introduction of performance measures for evaluation of the civil service officials is a crucial step for improving the civil service functioning. A restructure d civil service, with performance based remuneration, transparent operating procedures and public accountability could be a significant driver in strengthening of the institutions.

In conclusion, for achieving prosperity and development in a country, institutions need to be reshaped in order to improve the lives of the citizens. If institutions are flawed, corrupt or even lethargic, as observed in the case of Pakistan, they would not move on any project for the benefit of public and hence the development will become stagnant. It is highly imperative for Pakistan to reform and strengthen the state institutions for ensuring human security and development.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.

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