Home Latest News Pakistan’s Decline in Corruption Perceptions Index Linked to Rule of Law: Fawad

Pakistan’s Decline in Corruption Perceptions Index Linked to Rule of Law: Fawad

by Newsweek Pakistan

Photo courtesy PID

Information minister claims Transparency International report has not suggested any financial corruption of lawmakers

Pakistan’s decline in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 is a result of the lack of rule of law and state capture and not financial corruption, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain claimed on Tuesday, adding that a government response will be issued after it has received a “complete” report.

“The report released today is basically a press release and only shows the scores without explaining any reasons,” he told a press conference after a meeting of the federal cabinet. “All the agencies compiling the report maintained Pakistan’s ranking except for the Economist Intelligence Unit, which reduced the score,” he said, hinting at a “conspiracy” against the incumbent government.

However, Fawad admitted that law of rule of law was a problem, adding that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was considering criminal justice reforms to overcome this. “We need to rid of the notion that there are separate laws for the rich and the poor in Pakistan,” he said. State capture is also an issue identified by Prime Minister Imran Khan, he claimed, referring to a type of systemic political corruption in which private interests significantly influence a state’s decision-making processes to their own advantage.

Transparency International released its Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 earlier on Tuesday, showing Pakistan had dropped 16 places from 124 to 140 out of 180 countries. This is the “most corrupt” ranking for the country in the past decade and has been seized upon by the opposition to target the ruling PTI’s “accountability” narrative.

General elections

Summarizing other issues that had come up during the cabinet meeting, the information minister said that lawmakers had reiterated that the next general elections should be held on the basis of a new census. “For this purpose, the government has approved a budget of Rs. 5 billion,” he said, adding that the results of the pilot survey for Census 2022 would be released by May and the entire process would be completed by the end of 2022.

“Once the results of the pilot survey are in, the Election Commission of Pakistan will begin the delimitation of the constituencies for the next general elections,” he said.

Fawad reiterated that the government had decided against imposing any lockdowns during the ongoing fifth wave of the pandemic, as latest data showed only 1.5% of the population infected by the Omicron variant required hospitalization. “This shows that our health system is not overburdened with this wave of the pandemic,” he said, adding that the government would continue to follow its policy of enacting “smart lockdowns” in high positivity areas.

He said the cabinet had also taken notice of the high cost of COVID tests needed by Pakistanis seeking to travel abroad for work, adding that the government was looking to offer a subsidy to them to reduce this burden.

Legal reforms

The information minister said the cabinet had approved a draft of comprehensive legal reforms that would shortly be tabled in Parliament. Under the reforms, he said, courts would need to dispose of all criminal cases within nine months and provide reasons for any delays to the chief justices of the high courts concerned. The new law also envisages strengthening the police’s power of bail under suo moto, he said, adding a plea bargain clause had been suggested for accused in criminal cases.

Fawad said the Ministry of Planning and Development had briefed the cabinet on the overall economic situation, claiming it was “stable.” He said exports had increased by 29%, with textiles comprising the largest share, and reiterated that import of petroleum products and palm oil was the main reason for increase in the import bill.

He confirmed that the government had decided to pay $11.6 million in compensation to the Chinese victims of the Dasu Hydropower Project terror attack.

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