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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Nov 8, 2016

Drastic reforms needed to win people’s trust

A panel of legal, constitutional and human rights experts have pointed out there was no dearth of legal instruments in Pakistan to ensure a transparent mechanism.
However, drastic reforms were needed to make governance people centric and win back the trust of citizens.
This viewpoint emerged during a seminar on ‘Legal Instruments for Transparent Governance’ organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Monday.
Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS) Executive Director Zafarullah Khan, while presenting a historical background of governance models in Pakistan, said people had strong faith in democracy. However, he added that it had not been translated into trust in governance. Khan stated there were a number of progressive laws, including Right to Information (RTI), which had been introduced. However, a parliamentary consensus for transparent governance was needed instead of relying on courts for political matters.
“We have not been able to move forward from the colonial era as far the statute book of the country is concerned,” Khan said.
“To bring a real change and revive the trust of people in government and governance, a sense of collective social responsibility was needed at every level,” he concluded.
Senior legal expert Mohsin Abbas Syed presented details of the various legal instruments used to curb corruption in governance systems. He emphasised that political will and commitment was needed to make governance transparent and people-centric.
“Pakistan‘s ranking on the corruption index has improved in recent years. From 143 in 2010, it rose to 117 in 2016 [in the ranking of least corrupt countries].”
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) council member Nasreen Azhar said the culture of secrecy at the government level hindered transparency. She said that despite some encouraging and progressive laws, the rights of women, children and vulnerable segments of society were still being denied due to various flaws and lacunae in these laws.
Earlier, Dr Shaharyar Khan of SDPI, during his welcome note, suggested a governance system cannot gain credibility without being responsive to the public. He said the advancing discourse on legal instruments for transparent governance was the need of hour. He concluded people were losing trust in entire the governance and this was a matter of grave concern for all, especially people sitting at the helm of affairs.