Public Accountability in Pakistan: Still a Ways to Go

Wednesday, April 17th 2013

By Christina Crawley

Last week we had the pleasure of having Shereen Akhtar, a Pakistani government auditor and Humphrey Fellow at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs, speak to OpenGov Hub tenants about the current state of public accountability in Pakistan as the country prepares for next month’s elections.

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From Shireen’s experience, accountability is needed in Pakistan in the same way it is needed anywhere else: accountability allows the country to achieve good governance, and in turn allows governance practices to be held accountable. As this relates to Pakistan, where 60% of the population lives in rural settings and 32% are below the poverty level, many citizens simply don’t know their rights, much less about government accountability measures and standards, and so this remains a key challenge for the country to increase its transparency.

A number of accountability measures in Pakistan do exist, both institutionally (e.g., independent judiciary) and procedurally (e.g., performance evaluation systems); however, much still needs to be done to ensure that these measures are implemented effectively. In 2010, the Democracy Assessment Group (DAG) was created, and although there is still much to build, some notable progress has been made. For example, the Media is now independent from the government and is therefore now able to highlight corruption practices in the public sector.

With Pakistan’s upcoming elections, the hope is that accountability will only increase with a new government. Nevertheless, it is clear that Pakistan still has many hurdles to clear to become a more transparent nation.

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