Pakistan needs to do a lot of work to improve its image on the world map
By Dr Noman Ahmed
Release of the recent Global Perception Report caused many ugly turns in the business of governance. Sections of the press reported that the regime has begun contemplating to take action against the local office and office-bearers of Transparency International. Federal Investigation Agency is said to have moved in that direction. Some weeks ago, the Sindh Legislature unanimously rejected the TI report, which had placed Pakistan as the 34th most corrupt nation in the world.
Politicians from treasury benches cited reservations about the process of data collection, veracity of facts and credibility of sources. In yet another move, Ambassador of Germany to Pakistan visited the local TI office and displayed solidarity of his country towards the work done by the organisation. The fracas is far from over. More exchange of heated arguments and change of positions on the issue of establishing corruption remains to be witnessed by the people of this country.
TI reports have received criticism worldwide. However, most of this criticism was levied in an objective manner with an academic spirit. For instance, it has been argued that white collar corruption is an extremely difficult instance to be detected, documented and analyzed. The perpetrators of such crimes leave very few footmarks that could lead directions to their place.
It is also argued that the definitions of corruption and allied attributes are not fixed variables. They change their course with time and transformations in the context. Perhaps for these reasons, managers of this index cautiously coined the term ‘corruption perception’. It entails the probability in the existence of corruption can only be indicated. Our government cannot deny that scores of financially sick corporations and organizations have been reduced to the present near moribund status due to many actions and decisions that border on corruption. And shooting the messenger can perhaps be considered the most preposterous approach in this respect.
The ranking of Pakistan is not low in the clean transaction profile alone. There are many other yardsticks in the form of indices that inform us about the falling standards in governance, environment and ecology, quality of life of ordinary folks in the society, perception of peace and many more. For instance, Pakistan ranks 118th in the order of per capita gross domestic product calculated by the World Bank in 2009 on the basis of purchasing power parity. The IMF further downgrades us to 133rd position in the same respect. Any student of economics can interpret this variable as the fact that our natural productivity and utilisation of national, material and human resources is on the decline. Our economy and its management are not wisely done.
Human Development Index (HDI) around the same timeframe ranks Pakistan to 144th position out of 178 countries surveyed by the UNDP. This disappointing situation informs that despite tall claims, the overall status of health, education and environment in the country is dismal. The government only spent around 11 to 25 percent of committed funds in the first two quarters across the budgeted provisions.
A reflection of the poor performance of the country is in the form of epidemics, looming food shortage as a consequence of environmental disasters and poor functioning of basic education sector. The Economic Intelligence Unit places Pakistan at the 145th position in Global Peace Index. It unveils the fractured canvas of peace along the lengths and breadths of the territory. The country stands sandwiched between Israel and Sudan.
Adrian White, a British academic associated with University of Leicester, has formulated ‘satisfaction with life’ index. The yardstick has been developed after collating data and viewpoints to establish how contented common people are with their lives. Pakistan features at 166th position between Lesotho and Russia. The top slot is occupied by Denmark as number one with Burundi at the last position.
And then there is the drum beat of failed state syndrome. A globally drawn yardstick has capped Pakistan as the 10th most failed states in the company of Haiti and Guinea. The vehement denial by our government notwithstanding, the makers of this assessment have stuck to their guns. On the count of measuring hunger, the Global Hunger Index puts Pakistan at 61st place in association with Guinea and Malawi. It informs that the essential food supply and consumption by a vast population in our country is extremely vulnerable. Pakistan also does not fare well in the index for most livable places or greenest countries. Through relatively better than the earlier indicators, the country sits at 115th place with Togo and Kenya. Human development and environmental sustainability indices are used to carve out this parameter.
Now about some positive factors: Pakistan has a relatively better record in terms of per capita carbon dioxide emission from consumption and usage of fossil fuels as per 2005 estimates. It sits at 161st position towards the positive side where the first position holder is the most polluting country. Perhaps limited industrialisation is one reason behind this state of affairs. Pakistan is also reasonably placed in the World Giving Index of 2010 drawn by Charities Aid Foundation. It is at 142nd place. 20 percent of our population gave money for charity, 8 percent contributed time voluntarily and 20 percent helped a stranger. One factor comes out clearly from this review.
Where the input of private citizens and society as a whole is accounted for, the country seems to have scored a better grade. Where the actions and decisions of governments matter, the symptoms are not very promising. On the positive side, it can be concluded that the general healthy trends in society shall be able to heal the diagnosed ailments of the state. Our government must pave the way for this desired course of actions to happen in the near future.