Good Governance in Pakistan: Parameters, Causes and Measures.

Byline: Muhammad Mumtaz Ali Khan and Imran Alam


The forefathers of Pakistan established Pakistan for the purpose of providing open and free environment to its people in which they could pursue their social, economic, political and religious activities freely. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah's speeches were guidance to the state machinery in which he stressed on improving the lives of common people. He clearly termed good governance is the only tool through which Pakistan can settle all its monumental problems. Successive political leaders tried their beat to fill the aspirations of Quaid, but they could not succeed in it due to their political immaturity, and weak socio-economic condition of the country. Still, even today, the plight of governance in Pakistan is the same. That is why; Pakistan is unable to become a socially progressed, culturally developed, economically boosted, and politically matured country.

There are many reasons behind this failure to maintain good governance. Absence of rule of law, across the board accountability, responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency in state institutions are glaring reasons of bad and mis-governance. In addition to them, political instability, economic crisis, social degradation, and lack of political participation increase the woes of governance crisis. It is certain that in absence of good governance, Pakistan cannot integrate into the international economy, and cannot drive its poor people out of poverty. Even, these conditions will lead it toward chaos and instability. Now, Pakistan is at the crossroads. It needs to bring reforms in its institutional structures, especially in financial and justice department. Political devolution at local level is prerequisite of those reforms. If Pakistan acts timely on reforms and enforce them as soon as possible. It will be able to get its desired position among nations of the world.

Governance simply implies the process of governing or the manner and actions of governing of an organization or a state. Talking about the general sense of the phrase of 'good governance', according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) good governance is a process encouraging "staff incentives, training of civil servants, administrative and fiscal decentralization and dialogue between governments and civil society".1 Etounge Manguella over good governance is of the view that, "Good governance implies presence of rule of law, safeguard of human rights, and existence of honest and efficient government, accountability, transparency, predictability and openness".2 Over the above-mentioned issue, Michael Johnston is of the opinion, "Good governance is a competent management of a country's resources and affairs in a manner that is open, transparent, accountable, equitable and responsive to people's needs."3

Good governance is thought to be a constructive, positive and practical element of sustainable development.

Focusing on the particular problem, the Good governance Indicators of Governance in Pakistan present a very dull and unsatisfactory picture, though, Government is not entirely responsible for this. Good governance does not exist on one-way process; it demands active participation of society as well. Societal and public participation can be made in by various ways in the political, social and economic aspects of governance. In modern democracies, the worlds' constitutions in general and the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, in particular, guarantee a participatory culture, but unfortunately, it could not evolve in Pakistan.

Perhaps the root causes of this may be found in the fact that the both civil and military regimes since independence, have curtailed civil, political and cultural rights of the masses which led or badly affected the process of governance in Pakistan.

In this modern era, good governance and human rights are mutually interlinked with each other and enforceable simultaneously.

Good Governance in Pakistan: A Nightmare Scenario

Either good governance or its absence has always been very hot and primary point of discussion in Pakistan. When it comes to state duty to provide good governance to the masses, they should perform in effective manner at all tiers of the government. Unfortunately, but evidently, poor governance exists in country in form of corruption, institutional crashes, constitutional disaster, absence of accountability, absence of proper system of check and balance, poor condition of law and order. Since the day of independence, Pakistan has always been affected by instability in political system both by civilians and military regimes.

Can you imagine how a country governs its matters without constitution; Pakistan took nine long years to draft its 1st Constitution which was abrogated just after two years in 1958 by Sikandar Mirza with the imposition of martial law. Military interventions are bitter truth of our history which can never be denied. These interventions have an adverse effect on the system of governance in Pakistan. We had just completed 11 years (1947-1958) of civil rule and then had to suffer from 13 years (1958-1971) of military regime without any cause or necessity, although the principle of "doctrine of necessity" was evolved during this era,4 the doctrine which neither has been used in England nor in Anglo Saxon world ever. But in Pakistan this doctrine clung with constitutional history since independence till today.

For example in the cases of Mulvi Tameez-ud-din Khan case 19545, state v. Dosso 19586, Asma gilani v. Government of Punjab 19727, Begum Nusrat Bhutto vs. Chief of Army Staff and Federation of Pakistan 19778, Be-nazir bhutto vs Federation of Pakistan 19889, Military takeover by general musharaf in 1999, NRO in 2007 between Pervez Musharaf, Nawaz Sharif and Be-nazir bhutto, establishment of Military courts under 21st Constitutional Amendment (National Action Plan) in 2015 and lastly, re-establishment and Extension of Military Courts under 23rd Constitutional Amendment in 2017.

The Era of 1958 to 1971 was governed by two Military dictators consecutively i.e. General Ayub Khan and General Yaha Khan. Through his autocratic rule, President Ayub Khan centralized the government without the problems by adopting a new Constitution of 1962. Ayub Khan governed his regime with alliance of pre-dominant army and bureaucracy as well with inclusion of industrialists and landlords. In continuation to Khan's military regime General Yahya Khan headed the military regime from 1969-1971. Heart bleeds to say that the dismembering and fall of Dhaka10 was also due to bad governance in Pakistan since the death of Quaid. The second martial law focused to run government on the theme of centralization. 1970's general elections were held on the base of adult franchise and for the first time the doctrine of dominant socialism and ethnicity was brought to mainstream politics.

In 1973 country framed its first unanimous Constitution with consensus of all provinces and religions elites of all major sects. New hope was raised with promulgation of Constitution. But in a meanwhile on July 5, 1977 Pakistan was victimized of coup d'etat again and the 1973 Constitution was suspended. On the assumption of power General Zia-ul-Haq banned all political parties across the country.11 In 1985 Muhammad Khan Junejo was nominated as Prime Minister of Pakistan. On May 29th, 1988 President Zia dissolved the National Assembly and removed the Prime Minister under the Article 58(2) (b) of the Constitution. After the crash of Zia's plane12, democracy and civil supremacy tried to raise it head, however due to civilian-military clashes and political wrangling the successive governments could not rule more than 3 years. The era of 90s is considered a wasted era in the history of Pakistan.13, 14

Bureaucracy was used by the politicians for their personal interests. Consequently, bureaucrats were known to be sympathiser of particular political party. They were posted on crucial positions by judging their loyalty to party in power, not their competency. That trend vitiated the institutional performance.15 Again on 12th of October, 1999, General Pervez Musharaf imposed Martial Law and held the Constitution in abeyance. In the democratic era from 2008 to onward, the dream of good governance cannot be made a reality. The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government had set records of mis-governance, bad governance and inefficiency, and Pakistan retarded in social and economic fields. However, after 2013 Elections, it looked that governance began improving. It was being expected that this phenomenon would lead to various economic and social relief to the people, however nothing good happened and the peoples of Pakistan remained unsatisfied from this government as well as always.

These sentiments of population were utilised by the political parties in 2018 elections. The PTI government came in power on the slogan of 'Governance is a linchpin of Pakistan's progress'. But after one and half years in office, it could not do anything to revamp governance system of Pakistan.

It has been 72 years since Pakistan came into...

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