Governance implies control, direction, and rule with authority or administers laws to govern a system to achieve certain objectives. Good Governance implies running administration according to the defined laws to achieve the objective of promoting the welfare of the people in a democratic oriented order. Bad governance means departing from the norms of laws and subjecting system of administration to whims, idiosyncrasies of the rulers to achieve certain ulterior motives at the cost of national interests.
The hallmark of great nations is that they learn from their past experience to become wiser in conducting their current and future affairs. Another distinctive feature of such nations is that they try to understand the emerging long-term trends to identify new challenges, and plan for the future so as to take maximum advantage of the opportunities and avoid the pitfalls that may lie ahead.
On the other hand, the nations on the trajectory of decay and ultimate oblivion neither learn from the past nor have the inclination to look ahead into the future to plan for their security, progress and welfare. All it lacks in the context of Pakistan; socially, economically and politically as well.
In the words of Mahbbub-ul-Haq, ‘Crisis in Governance’, “Human Development Report in South Asia”:
“Governance is the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority to manage the resources of a country. It is always based upon certain rules and laws established by the members of a society. These laws agreed upon by the society are, in fact, to make governance pro-welfare in the larger interest of the people. The ultimate goal of governance is human development through decreasing human suffering and increasing opportunities.”
He further writes:
“Good Governance is exercising authority in accordance with the established laws, and any digression or subversion from these laws is bad governance. Whereas Good Governance guarantees safety and security of human beings and creates an atmosphere conducive to progress and prosperity. Bad governance has the germs of fathering a number of crises. No state is free of all crises but it is the quality of governance that ensures its survival through any crisis. Crises flee at the hands of Good Governance and they are multiplied in abd governance. Crisis management requires employment of all available resources, human, physical and technological in the best manner and it is only possible in Good Governance. States having Good Governance are capable of fighting any crisis even with the meager resources.”
Four characteristics, namely, fairness or merit, competence, ability and integrity underline Good Governance. As for fairness, it calls for ensuring equality of opportunity through merit, transparency to meet the end of justice. Competence and ability are inter-related inasmuch as ability is linked to competence of an individual. The recognition of competence through merit in employment needs to be accorded the highest priority to lay basis for Good Governance. The worth of an individual in functionally specific societies depends upon his competence and ability to do a job efficiently rather than his family connections to secure a job for which he is not suited. Jobs are offered to individuals on the basis of their competence and ability in societies that have Good Governance. In pluralistic societies like Pakistan, it is not the suitability of an individual for a particular job but his clannish connections plus the influence he wields in political hierarchy that could get him a job though he may not possess the required qualifications. In such societies merit is discarded to accommodate certain favourites and jobs particularly in public sector go to those who do not possess competence to man them. Handling of jobs by incompetent personnel gives a set back to Good Governance for achieving efficient-oriented results.
Good Governance stands for the strength of various types of institutions, political, economic and legal. Institutions need to be built and sustained, which could guarantee the survival of the nation in times of catastrophes or perils. Institutions need to be stronger than individuals. Unfortunately, a little effort has been made to build institutions on a stable footing in Pakistan as individual shave taken a precedence over institutions. The trend is to be reversed for achieving real stability. The latter comes not through individuals but through institutions. We must not allow the erosion of institutions through the idiosyncratic behaviour of rulers and this would necessitate more doses of democracy. Good Governance is linked to the development of institutions, and through these Pakistan can hope to meet the varied challenges of the 21st century.
The Crisis of Good Governance in Pakistan:
Pakistan suffers from a number of crises. Every crisis has negative effect on its polity and society. But the foremost crisis that Pakistan is facing is that of Good Governance. It is the core of all other problems.
Pakistan unfortunately plunged into the curse of bad governance in the early years of its life. The blame is often laid at the door of imperial legacy we inherited from the colonial rulers. But it is the fact that the system of governance that Pakistan inherited at the time of its birth had proved its worth for over 100 years. Under the same system people had trust and confidence in the government. Life and property of citizens were secured through implementation of law. After the partition, the founding fathers of Pakistan gave best results with the same wherewithal despite having meager resources. But as the state grew older and resources became available the quality of governance started to decline and currently it is at the nadir. After 58 years, the dream of the father of the nation still remains unfulfilled.
Every time a new government comes it declare the old systems an anathema, throws it away and establishes a new one. After so many experiments with the constitution still we have not been able to achieve the desired results, thanks to poor governance. Change in constitution and law makes little difference if these laws are not implemented in their true spirit. The real problem is at the implementation level. When vested interests and incompetent officials allow subversion to the established law, even the best law cannot be of any use.
Due to the bad governance education, health, civic services, agricultural infrastructure – is in the state of paralysis. Even the most basic social needs of citizens are not fulfilled. Law and order, a fundamental duty of state has suffered a great setback. People do not feel safe and secure. Places of worship have to be guarded for the fear of terrorism. This sorry state of law and order scared the investors away from the country thereby severely harming the economy.
The curse of bad governance has also enveloped the judiciary. In contemporary times there is a great emphasis on good governance. One of the pillars of good governance is the existence of independent, impartial and honest judiciary. Further, true democracy is the hallmark of good governance. Therefore, until and unless a foundation for true democracy and independent, impartial and honest judiciary is laid in this country, the prospects of elimination of the elements of bad governance will be a tall order.
In the context of Pakistan people are increasingly losing confidence in this institution. Its working has been severely harmed by the incompetency and insufficiency of the personnel. In some cases, political interference in the work of judiciary also affects badly the quality of judgment. Delaying tactics have resulted into huge backlog of cases. It consequently delays the delivery. Courts are meant to be the watchdog in a civil society to keep effective check on all other institutions of the state. This lofty job demands efficiency and honesty on the part of judiciary. Bad reputation of courts as in the case of Pakistan encourages corrupt element to violate the laws.
One of the most damaging effects of bad governance is the prevalence of corruption that ultimately results in lawlessness. The absence of impartial and independent accountability has resulted in the growth of this monster. Corruption has become a norm in our society rather than the exception.
Another worst effect of bad governance is that it kills merit. Merit or fairness is essential for good governance. Merit and good governance support each other. Bad governance gives birth to nepotism and favouritism, which is anti-thesis of fairness. In a society based on merit, it is the competence and ability of a person that is the criteria for the employment or continuity of job.
Present Scenario in Pakistan:
The administrative structure that was left behind by the British has been labelled ad nauseam as the legacy of the colonial rule, put in place to safeguard the interests of the Raj. To an extent no one can deny this. But no one can also deny the fact that this system was well geared to ensure justice and the maintenance of law and order.
The state of governance is the single most important factor that determines the quality of public services provided to the citizens of a country. Many independent bodies and aid agencies that have looked into Pakistan’s development problems have attributed the malaise in public services — be they education, health, housing, water supply, transport, or sanitation — to poor administration.
Good Governance stands for poverty alleviation through long term Social Action Programme (SAP). In Pakistan, Poverty Reduction Strategy was launched by the government in 2001 in response to the rising trend in poverty during 1990s. It consisted of the following five elements: (a) accelerating economic growth and maintaining macroeconomic stability, (b) investing in human capital, (c) augmenting targeted interventions; (d) expanding social safety nets and (e) improving governance. The net outcome of interactions among these five elements would be the expected reduction in transitory and chronic poverty on a sustained basis. The reduction in poverty and improvement in social indicators and living conditions of the society are being monitored frequently through large- scale household surveys in order to gauge their progress in meeting the targets set by Pakistan for achieving the seven UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Not surprisingly, the figures cited by the government for people living below the poverty line have come to be widely questioned. With poverty alleviation being the buzzword these days in our economic and social development and a key criterion for aid givers, it is understandable that the policymakers are desperately trying to prove the success of their strategy in terms of falling poverty levels. But unfortunately wishes are not horses and the government will have to do better to achieve its goals. It now appears that the government’s claim of poverty being 23.9 per cent is being challenged not just by economists in the country but also the World Bank and the UNDP. Both these agencies have come up with different figures — 25.7 per cent by the UNDP and 28.3 per cent by the World Bank. This is no doubt embarrassing for the government, which has repeatedly claimed that its estimates have been endorsed by the donor agencies. But it is still not too late to rectify the error so that our economic planning is not based on illusionary statistics.
Inflation seemed to be a chronic problem in many parts of the world. There is a wide spread recognition that inflation results in inefficient resource allocation and hence reduces potential economic growth. Inflation imposes high cost on economies and societies; disproportionately hurts the poor and fixed income groups and creates uncertainty throughout the economy and undermines macro-economic stability. High inflation has always penalized the poor more than the rich because the poor are less able to protect themselves against the consequences, and less able to hedge against the risks that high inflation poses. Lowering inflation therefore, directly benefits the low and fixed income groups. Pakistan has witnessed a low inflation environment for the last several years but experienced a sharp picked up last year at 9.3 percent.
3) Economic Growth:
Economic growth is the engine of employment generation and poverty alleviation. In order to sustain this strong pace of growth and maintain healthy and vigorous macroeconomic indicators would require a prolonged period of macroeconomic stability, financial discipline, and consistent and transparent policies. These, along with improved governance and better quality infrastructure would encourage private sector to play a leading role in promoting investment and growth. The government on its part must identify and promote sectors, which are considered not only to be the major drivers of growth but also have the greatest potential of creating more employment opportunities.
4) Provincial Rivalry:
The disparity in the size and resources of the provinces has created the feeling in the smaller units that they are being dominated and even exploited by the larger province. A way out of this throbbing point is to allow all the provinces sufficient autonomy so that they can frame their own policies and run their own affairs as they think fit within the broad framework of the federation. The 1973 Constitution, which was approved by a consensus, provides a small measure of autonomy for the provinces. Even much of this has been siphoned away by the amendments and distortions that have changed the Basic Law beyond recognition. For instance, the changes brought about in the structure of the local government by the military-led government have enhanced the centre’s hold on the administration at the grassroots level. The provinces have been unable to assert their authority and will in many such matters because of their dependence on Islamabad for their financial resources. Their taxation powers are limited and, according to one estimate, they cannot generate more than 10 per cent of their revenue needs. To meet the shortfall, the provinces rely on the federal divisible pool, subventions and grants from the centre. There is also the interference which comes from Islamabad in the shape of appointments of senior officers in the provincial administrations.
- Law & Order:
- Sectarian Violence:
- Population scenario:
- Political instability:
- National Commission for Government Reform:
The government has recently established still another agency whose mission appears to be similar to that of the NRB. Called the National Commission for Government Reform (NCGR), it is to consist of 11 members five of whom will be serving or retired civil servants, three federal or provincial ministers, and two drawn from the corporate sector. Ishrat Husain, former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, will be its head.
Writing in this newspaper (July 9, 2006), Mr Husain tells us that the commission will report once every three months to a “steering committee,” co-chaired by the president and the prime minister and including the four provincial chief ministers. This committee will consult the central and provincial cabinets, higher civil servants, politicians, and “nazims” regarding the commission’s recommendations. Once it has approved them, they will be deemed to have been approved by governments at all levels.
He also says that his commission will watch the filtering down to the masses of the prosperity to be generated by economic growth and, in the same connection, it will want to make public officials responsive to the common man’s needs. But apparently, it will not be concerned with the political dimension of governance. This omission may render its enterprise barren, for politics and administration are inextricably linked. The commission wants to make the bureaucracy both efficient and responsive. The quest for efficiency may require modernisation of equipment, change in methods and procedures, simplification of work flow (skipping unnecessary stops on the way up or down), delegation of authority and responsibility, and mitigation, if not elimination, of corruption. Installation of newer equipment, methods, and procedure does not require a lot more than a modest amount of training. Delegation of authority and eradication of corruption are the more intractable problems
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