Who will rise against corruption?

In his historic speech delivered to the first Constitution Assembly of Pakistan on 11th August 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah identified the first duty of his government as the maintenance of law and order and defined his second priority in the following words: “One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand and I hope that you will take adequate measure as soon as it is possible for this Assembly to do so.”

Regrettably for Pakistan, these intelligent words have not been heeded to in the last 68 years and corruption has become a virus infecting every aspect of political, social and economic activities. Corruption and bad governance is not only threatening our national security, economic prosperity but also, international reputation. In Pakistan, bad governance is perceived as widespread and systemic and deeply embedded in society and in government divisions at all levels. Moreover, bureaucratic corruption taking place in public administration at the implementation end of public policies. At this end, citizens experience corruption daily in their dealing with public administrators and services, like education, health, licensing authorities, police, customs, taxing authorities, and many other government agencies.

The recent report of Transparency International (20015) ranked Pakistan (Corruption Perception Index: 117) among the most corrupt countries and corruption has become a multibillion dollar industry. Corruption is a result of poor governance as it is a social epidemic and major constraint to good governance. To protect the democracy from this epidemic, accountability and transparency have become important element of governmental reform. Unfortunately, there is a lack of transparency and accountability in every public sector of Pakistan. In various literatures, corruption has been shown as the result of lack of transparency and accountability which is dangerous for democratic setup. It is also widely accepted and proved that transparency and accountability are major determinants in the fight against corruption.

Globally, there is an ongoing debate in economics, political science and information technology over the best evaluation methods for transparency and accountability. Innovative technologies are opening up all kind of possibilities for improve and promote accountability and transparency. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are progressively seen by governments, activists and civil society as an imperative tools to promote transparency and accountability, along with to identify and reduce corruption. There is a comprehensive accord that ICTs have the potential to make a meaningful contribution to the fight against corruption via facilitating the flow of information between government institutions, government and citizens, as well as among citizens. In the modern age, governments around the world are beginning to introduce ICT to the public sector reform in order transform governmental relations with citizens, good governance and curb corruption since new technologies can promote transparency, accountability and citizen participation.

Over the past few years, researchers have increasingly focused on the link between poor governance, corruption, and economic growth. Governance and corruption are multi-dimensional phenomena that affect different sectors and groups of citizens in any country. In Pakistan, cross-country evidence shows how poor governance and corruption may be harmful for standards of living and the distribution of income of citizens, reducing literacy and per capita income, while increasing infant mortality. Moreover, poor governance and corruption distorts public expenditure and increase poverty.

In poorly governed country, policymakers must face the challenge of designing and implementing effective reforms to improve governance and curb corruption. Policymakers need to approach governance and anti-corruption reforms in a novel way and integrate political commitment with technical measures and citizens participation. If an anti-corruption policy is to be viable, it must be designed as a multi-pronged venture that comprise a set of multifarious actions in different areas of society and sate institutions. More expressly, there is a substantial need to define all dimensions of the anti-corruption struggle and the role of ICTs can play in it, since ICTs hold the biggest potential for promoting the anti-corruption effort.

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