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The Statesman

Published Date: Mar 31, 2012

WEAK GOVERNANCE MAIN CAUSE OF PAKISTAN?S POVERTY

Weak governance is responsible for persistent poverty and lagging human development in Pak­istan, said Shabbir Cheema, Director, Asia-Pacific ‘Gover­nance and Democracy Initia­tive, USA.
He was delivering a lec­ture on “Governance for human development” and said that unfortunately, govern­ment’s efforts at improving human development had mis­erably failed in Pakistan, and the reasons are lack of vision at policy level, absence of competence and commitment by political and bureaucratic management and a strong feu­dal culture that influences gov­ernance in the country.
He said Pakistan’ needs a continuity of democratic pro­cess, strong civil society, hard economic decisions and increase in internal revenue generation which will enable the country to have democratic and effective governance at various levels that delivers.
Cheema was of the view that democratic governments cannot survive long if they do not build and sustain trust of citizens, which is difficult to build and easy to lose in this age of information.
He said, although citizen’s trust in government is promoted by democratic governance, it is not sufficient to sustain. He said positive aspect in Pakistan is that now actors from all state institutions want democratic processes to continue, and for the first time in its history an elected government is likely to complete its term.
“Pakistan has a resilient society and only if its governance is improved, the gaps between Pakistan’s potential and it performance can be bridged. Currently Pakistan has several opportunities for change in the form of vibrant’ civil society, open and free media, rise of independent judiciary, huge resource base and individual entrepreneurship that can be utilised for ensuring human development the country,” he went on commenting.
Shabbir Cheema highlighted significance and interrelations of governance with human development. He said, governance crisis is evident in widespread corruption, ineffi­cient public services, and a host of other failures. Cheema said, Pakistan’s poor rating at World Governance Indicator (WGI) and Human Develop­ment Indicator (HDI) reflects that Pakistan needs to take drastic steps to improve gover­nance and welfare of its citi­zens.
He expressed that weak governance in Pakistan is con­straining its ability to cope with core social and develop­ment issues which are sustain­able economic growth, pover­ty eradication, education, health, water, energy shortages and radicalisation of the soci­ety. He said traditional gover­nance concept comes with hierarchical bureaucratic sys­tems, which only focuses on the maintenance of law and order and the provision of basic infrastructure and services. He said, now broader concept of governance identi­fies three sets of actors, the state, civil society and the pri­vate sector that co-produce the governance.
He also shared various indicators that measure effec­tiveness of governance such as people’s voice and account­ability, political stability and absence of violence, govern­ment effectiveness, and regulatory quality, rule of law and control of corruption.
Cheema also said that the external factors and powers had been playing a key role into Pakistan’s today’s situa­tion adding that end game in Afghanistan will have major impact on Pakistan.