Transparency International on Thursday released its annual Corruption Perception Index for 2019, with Pakistan’s ranking dropping to 120 out of 180 countries with a slightly worse score of 32 out of 100.
Last year, Pakistan’s ranking stood at 117—the same as in 2017—although it’s score had slightly increased to 33. This year’s reversal raises questions about the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s claims of making accountability and eradication of corruption a central plank of its governance. Sohail Muzaffar, Chairman of Transparency International Pakistan, sought to clarify Pakistan’s worsening situation in a press release issued alongside the report.
“The Transparency International Secretariat explained that in CPI 2019 many countries have not performed well this year,” he said, implying that Pakistan being perceived as more corrupt was in line with worsening views of public sector organizations globally. Muzaffar also applauded the National Accountability Bureau’s “rejuvenation” but did not clarify how that squared with the anti-graft watchdog being perceived as a tool for political victimization—or criticism from the higher judiciary that NAB’s faulty prosecutions were damaging the body’s own image.
Transparency’s CPI scores 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business owners. All states are scored from 0 to 100, with 100 being “very clean” and 0 being “highly corrupt.”
According to the 2019 report, two-thirds of the countries scored below 50, with the average score being a mere 43. The country with the highest rank, Denmark, scored 87. Most notably, said Transparency, advanced economies were seen to be sliding in the past year, with Canada, France, the U.K., and the U.S. all scoring lower than they had in 2018. India ranked 40, with a score of 80, which is over double Pakistan’s score of 32.
“Frustration with government corruption and lack of trust in institutions speaks to a need for greater political integrity,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International. “Governments must urgently address the corrupting role of big money in political party financing and the undue influence it exerts on our political systems.”
“The lack of real progress against corruption in most countries is disappointing and has profound negative effects on citizens around the world,” said Patricia Moreira, managing director of Transparency International. “To have any chance of ending corruption and improving peoples’ lives, we must tackle the relationship between politics and big money. All citizens must be represented in decision making,” she added.
The top five states—with the least amount of perceived corruption—are Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore and Sweden. The bottom five states are Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Somalia.
To reduce corruption and restore trust in politics, Transparency International recommends that governments take steps to control political financing to prevent excessive money and influence in politics; tackle preferential treatment to ensure budgets and public services aren’t driven by personal connects or biased towards special interests; manage conflicts of interest and address “revolving doors”; regulate lobbying activities by promoting open and meaningful access to decision-making; strengthen electoral integrity and prevent and sanction misinformation campaigns; empower citizens and protect activists, whistleblowers and journalists; reinforce checks and balances and promote separation of powers.