Accountability & Corruption – Pakistan has good laws without Implementation
HRCP’s Dialogue on Accountability Laws and Policies: The Way Forward

Laws are meant to be formulated to drive a society in an order. But if laws fail to control the outlaws of the society and just classify the masses on their social status, then these should be revisited without any further delay. Pakistan enforced its first constitution in 1956, almost after nine years of its inception. But the newly established state had inherited a framework of basic laws including Anti-corruption Laws from the British India Act 1935 which was named Prevention of Corruption of Act 1947. According to annual 2013 corruptions perception index of Transparency International, out of 176 countries Pakistan ranked on 134th place. It shows no solemn efforts have been made on part of the State to consider and review the laws with an objective to effect reach change.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) held a one day national consultation dialogue on “Accountability laws and Policies: The Way Forward. The aim of the consultation was to bring together legal practitioners, academics, civil society representatives, human rights activists and members of the National Parliament to share their views and experiences for the improvement of the basic framework of accountability and anti-corruption in Pakistan. I.A Rehman, Secretary General HRCP and an eminent voice on human rights in Pakistan said “Corruption in Pakistan not only poses a significant danger to the quality of governance, but also threats in an accelerated manner the very foundation of democracy and statehood. Corrupt practices tend to undermine the public trust and belief in the state institutions and democratic process”.

Reema Omar, the legal adviser of International Commission of Jurists talked during her presentation that, “Corruption does not mean monetarily or financially, misuse of authority also comes corruption. A culture of nepotism, discrimination and monopolization of opportunities itself promotes corruption and violates fundamental human rights”. She termed such kind of corruption a crime against humanity and an abuse of power against merit. Reema, also highlighted the excessive role of state institutions over each other most of the time upholds inter-institutional corruption.
Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Founding Director of Center of Peace and Development Initiative (CPDI) and Zafarullah Khan, Director Center for Civic Education, the prominent voices of Pakistani civil society discussed the recent debates context of the Accountability laws in national and provincial assemblies. Mukhtar, Particularly highlighted the importance of Right to Information (RTI) laws for a stern accountability of elected and non-elected representatives. He mainly pointed out the major flaws in the upcoming Federal law on Right to Information, which will just further stifle the fundamental rights if it passes as it is from the Parliament.

Marvi Sarmand, who heads Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) underlined the fault lines of law making and its parliamentary procedure. Marvi emphasized on the effective work of the parliamentary tools like standing committees, and sub committees. She stress, it is an uphill task to eradicate corruption and lawlessness until the state apparatus does not function properly.

Farhatullah Babar, the Senator and the former spokesman of the President of Pakistan stated “In Past, unfortunately despite of good legislation, the democratic governments had to face corruption charges which deterred the deliverance of good governance. We as a nation should believe on democracy and let the elected governments complete their terms patiently, and hold them accountable in elections rather than through judicial and media trail. He further added “the leg pulling of power and supremacy between the state organs cannot lead the nation to progress, but towards further downfall”. In order to eliminate the flaws in the Federal law of Right to Information, Senator Babar assured his efforts to revisit the under discussion law in the Senate of Pakistan.

The story of anti-corruption and accountability laws now has become a story of political witch-hunt rather than legislation in public interest. The result in that Pakistan remains in search of a viable legal framework backed by representative political will. Hence, there is a persistent need to strive for corruption-free state institutions. Pakistan as a nation has to understand that corruption attacks the fundamental values of human dignity, political and economic equality of the people. For Pakistan the only way to forward is to root the corrupt elements out of its ranks and lines without any social and political discrimination.