Accountability is the Cornerstone of Good Governance

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  1. Introduction
  2. Accountability in Pakistan
  3. Factors behind Weak and Lopsided Accountability Process in the Country
  4. Politicization of accountability institutions
  5. Puny budgetary allocation
  6. Non-professional and inefficient manpower
  7. Non-cooperation from other departments
  8. Selective accountability
  9. Unnecessary deep-rooted regulations and processes
  10. Deep-rooteá corruption in the accountability institutions
  11. Abuse of discretionary powers due to lack of rationalization
  12. Abysmally poor level of transparency
  13. The absence of protection for the whistleblower's
  14. Lack of public participation in the accountability process
  15. Constant political instability
  16. General public ignorance regarding accountability laws Socio-economic and Political implications of Weak Accountability Culture
  17. Unprecedented levels of corruption
  18. Rapid erosion of the rule of law
  19. Worsening institutional decay
  20. Institutions as tools of public torture rather than public service
  21. Massive abuse of human rights
  22. The constant threat of derailment of democracy
  23. The continued dominance of illiterate and power hungry politicians on the political horizon
  24. Conclusion

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There is no denying the fact that accountability is at the heart of good governance. In I the absence of a vibrant accountability mechanism, a country is bound to be plunged into the constant crisis of governance which may jeopardize her entire socio-economic and political edifice. Similarly, if the structure of governance is built on the strong foundation of accountability, it not only adds to the strength of the institutions, ensuring public prosperity but also diminishes the country's vulnerability to the external pressures. In short, the nexus between governance and ruthless and unbiased accountability is undeniable if a nation wants to be in the list of developed countries.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, there is no denying the fact that the country has been unable to create an environment quite conducive to the unabated growth of the norms of accountability. Despite the lapse of 70 years, accountability as a culture has miserably failed to take roots in the country. It is because of the failing accountability culture that corruption has reached such alarming proportions that it has spawned the extravaganza of loot and plunders in the society. This explains the fact why poverty and unemployment remain the biggest challenges for the majority of the masses. Needless to say, internalized corruption in the institutions is a predominant factor behind their constant weakening, giving rise to the phenomenon of institutional decay in the country. To be sure, such alarming condition of the institutions, especially the executive, has made them abysmally dependent on the corrupt political elite who make them dance to their tune in order to ensure their own vested interests. It goes without saying that weak institutions of the state are primarily responsible for the crisis of governance, posing an existential threat to the country.

In other words, due to the absence of a vibrant and non-discriminatory culture of accountability, the institutions are so rotten that they have become a very tool of public persecution and torture instead of public service, leading to abysmal erosion of rule of law. Undeniably, such wretched condition of the institutions has caused serious trust deficit between the rulers and the masses, which is, undoubtedly, one of the leading factors involved in the weakening of the democratic system in the country.

There are many factors which are responsible for weak accountability culture in the country. Most important of them is the politicization of the accountability institutions at the federal and provincial levels. The political influence in the institutions is so overwhelming that accountability institutions are unable to fulfil their duties in objective and efficient way. Be it NAB, FIA or provincial anti- corruption departments, all of them march to the drum of ruling politicians. It is an unfortunate truth that the politicians at the helm of affairs use these institutions for their vested interests, which has not only undermined the internal structure of the institutions, but has also given a severe blow to the rule of law in the country.

Not surprisingly, the politicization of the accountability institutions has given birth to the malaise of selective accountability in the country. The institutions are so vulnerable to the political influence that they are usually used for political victimization. It is a norm in the country that whenever a political party steps into the corridors of power, its first and foremost priority is to target its political opponents. And undoubtedly, it is the institutions of accountability which serve as their tools to quench their morbid desire of revenge. And this is the reason we see the ruling politicians appointing their loyalists as the heads of accountability institutions. Briefly speaking, the history of accountability institutions is, in fact, a tale of political victimization. Thus, such political victimization is a huge barrier in the way of proper growth of accountability culture in the country.

Apart from selective accountability, puny allocation of funds to these institutions is also a strong factor behind dismal growth of accountability culture in the country. There are no two opinions on the fact that sufficient budgetary allocation is like a blood quite indispensable for the healthy growth of any institution. However, it is an alarming fact that each year a meagre amount of fund is allocated for the accountability institutions. Undeniably, such puny funding serves as a huge bottleneck in the development of these institutions. It not only stymies their growth, but also increases their susceptibility to corruption.

The existence of non-professional and inefficient manpower in these institutions is equally responsible for the alarming state of affairs regarding accountability institutions in the country. It cannot be denied that the principle of right man for the right job is a prerequisite for efficiency. However, it is really sad to know that majority of employees working in the accountability bodies are mostly the result of political recruitment. They are so non-professional and inefficient that they are unable to discharge their responsibilities effectively, which has resulted in poor performance of accountability bodies. Had there been induction of the professional and skilful people in the accountability institutions, the country would have seen a robust culture of accountability.

Coupled with inefficient manpower, lack of coordination among the departments also contributes to the weak accountability process in the country. There is no denying that requisition of data at the disposal of other official departments is necessary for the purpose of accountability. However, it has been seen that there is an entrenched norm of non-cooperation among the institutions. Such attitude not only unnecessarily prolongs the accountability process, but also puts question mark on its results.

In addition to non-cooperation from the departments, unnecessary regulations and processes further slow down the process of accountability. Like all other institutions, the accountability bodies are also afflicted with the malady of pursuing unnecessary rules and regulations. It has been seen that such pursuing mostly not only leads the investigation to a blind alley, making the process of accountability a ridiculous farce, but also strengthens the malaise of red-tapism. And undoubtedly, red-tapism creates space for the political influence, which gives a severe blow to the element of objectivity in the accountability proceedings.

Like all other institutions, the accountability institutions are also imbued with the curse of corruption. Corruption is so ingrained in these institutions that it has not only aggravated their internal weaknesses but has also led to the erosion of public trust in them. On one the hand, it has exacerbated the culture of selective accountability; while on the other, it has further added to the audacious corrupt practices of both politicians and bureaucrats in the country. Briefly speaking, corruption is a huge impediment in the growth of a robust and indiscriminate accountability culture.

In addition to corruption, lack of rationalization of discretionary powers in the accountability bodies further adds fuel to the fire. It has been seen that excessive discretionary powers are vested with public officials holding the top slots in the hierarchy. Such irrational concentration of powers in few hands naturally results in massive abuse of power. The maxim that
"power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely"
is perfectly relevant here. As the degree of power increases, so does the level of corruption. This is why the ruling political elite is so cautious in the appointment of top officials in the accountability bodies as massive concentration of powers vested with the top officials makes it easy for the politicians to get their desired results in the accountability investigations.

Additionally, the absence of public participation in the accountability process also goes a long way in making it lopsided and biased. While public induction in the accountability process is a norm in most of the countries, however the same has not taken place in Pakistan. No one can deny the fact that public involvement not only decreases the abuse of powers on the part of public officials but also adds to the public trust in the accountability bodies. Hence, the role of public participation in the accountability process is a prerequisite for the growth of a vibrant and ruthless accountability culture.

There is no denying the fact that the absence of public involvement has diminished the element of transparency in the accountability investigations in the country. Lack of transparency has not only reduced public access to information but has also aggravated the abuse of power in the accountability bodies by the public officials. Very rarely, it has been seen that the results of accountability proceedings are made public. In fact, absence of transparency is a huge factor behind deep-rooted corruption in the accountability bodics. It creates space for the ruling political elite to manipulate the accountability process.

Coupled with the lack of transparency, the absence of the culture of whistleblowers in the country is also a predominant reason behind dismal growth of accountability mechanism. And such absence has been perpetuated by lack of protection to the whistleblowers in the society. Owing to the absence of protection, many people are hesitant to expose the corrupt practices of public officials or the ruling political elite. Needless to say, had such culture of protection been available in the county, it would have added greatly to the strength of accountability mechanism in the country.

The role of constant political instability in Pakistan cannot be negated as far as the poor growth of accountability norms is concerned. Like all other institutions, the accountability bodies have also been victim to the disastrous effects of political instability. Owing to constant political turmoil in the country, the accountability culture has not been able to come out of the morass of immaturity and internal weaknesses. Perhaps this is the reason that despite lapse of many years, the accountability mechanism is still at the rudimentary stage in the country.

Last but not the least, the prevalence of ignorance among the masses regarding accountability laws also contributes to the alarming growth of the accountability culture in Pakistan. It has been seen that at the grass root level, general masses are ignorant about the process. The main factor behind it is the absence of decentralization of accountability mechanism at the local level. Undoubtedly, such awareness deficit among the masses not only encourages the blatant corrupt practices but also goes a long way in hampering the promising growth of accountability culture in the country.

At this stage, it would be quite pertinent to shed light on the effects of weak and lopsided accountability culture in the country. Undeniably, the dismal growth of accountability bodies in the country has unleashed severe ramifications on the social, economic and political fronts. The most important among them has manifested in the form of corruption. The absence of vibrant and robust accountability mechanism is the prime force behind the unbridled growth of corruption in the country. The malaise of corruption is so ingrained in the institutions from top to bottom that it has spawned institutional decay at an unprecedented level. The institutions have been weakened internally and externally so much that the efficient delivery of public services has become a myth. The executive institutions have, in fact, become very tools of public persecution and torture in the hands of powerful and influential people of the society. Had the accountability mechanism been allowed to flourish in a milieu imbued with objectivity and supremacy of law, the situation would have been quite promising today and resultantly, the executive institutions would not have been puppets at the beck and call of the ruling elite.

In addition to institutional decay, dismal prevalence of accountability conditions has also given rise to the rapid erosion of rule of law. It is an unfortunate truth that laws are so discriminatory in the country that they only exist for the poor and downtrodden Ṇ system and manage to escape the net of the law. So is the case with accountability system. The country abysmally lacks the precedents of the accountability of the rich. Undoubtedly, such discriminate use of laws in the country has given a severe blow to the rule of law, resulting in massive erosion of public faith in the institutions.

Needless to say, dismal version of the law has led to the emergence of environment which promotes the abuse of human rights in the society. This is why Pakistan has the worst record with respect to human rights abuse. Almost all the basic rights —- be it dignity, security, free speech, free and fair trial, etc. are at stake in the country. Such dismal abuse of human rights is the reason that the country is often termed as the failing state. Had the state had uncompromising and extraordinary focus on the growth of a robust and vibrant accountability culture, the country would have come out of the morass of multiple challenges a long ago.

Massive corruption coupled with dismal human rights, conditions has naturally resulted in the erosion of public faith in the democratic system. This is why we see democracy under constant threat of derailment in the country. Owing to the inability of the democratically elected government to deliver in the public sector, large segments of population consider democracy a tool of public persecution. Such conditions naturally create space for the intrusion of the military in the political sphere. This is why the country has dismal history of derailment of democracy on the charges of massive corruption threatening the very socio-economic fabric of the country.

More importantly, due to constant weakening of the accountability institutions in the country, the political environment continues to be dominated by the feudalistic and power-hungry politicians. Such abysmal dominance, to be sure, is a huge bottleneck in the way of influx of educated and enlightened persons in the political arena. This explains the fact why politics continues to be the dirty game in the country. Without an iota of doubt, absence of educated youth in the politics poses a considerable impediment to the evolution of democratic culture in the country.

All the discussion drives us to the conclusion that accountability is one of the key pillars of good governance. In fact, the degree of accountability is the touchstone to assess the quality of governance in any country. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, this key pillar of governance could not evolve on durable footing. And, to be sure, there are multiple factors which have played significant role in its weakening. Most prominent among them are the use of accountability process as a tool of political victimization, poor funding to accountability institutions, appointment of loyalists to head these institutions coupled with their subservience to provincial and federal governments, abysmal centralization of powers, weak and ineffective parliament along with lacklustre and compromised opposition and above all, lack of transparency in the management of the state's affairs. Weak and lopsided accountability culture has not only resulted in the phenomenal hike in corruption in the provincial as well as federal institutions, leading to trampling of public rights, but has also aggravated the weakening of key institutions, hence engendering the crisis of governance of alarming proportions in the country. Thus, against such backdrop, strengthening the accountability culture has become a strategic imperative for the state. It is high time that the state put its money where its mouth is.

For the sake of larger good of people, the state needs to build, nurture and sustain the accountability institutions so that they could emerge stronger than the individuals. Once these very institutions are built on strong footing, the corrupt political and bureaucratic elite of the country, like King John of England, will eventually bow down to their knees and stand accountable to the general masses. Besides, in order to strengthen the democratic process in the country, building of public belief in democratic system is exceedingly necessary, which is only possible through promoting a vibrant, ruthless and all-sided accountability culture in the country.
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Honey Notes: Accountability is the Cornerstone of Good Governance
Accountability is the Cornerstone of Good Governance
example of accountability in good governance good governance pdf characteristics of good governance pdf 8 characteristics of good governance elements of good governance transparency and accountability in good governance good governance essay pdf examples of good governance essay on good governance in pakistan essay on good governance practices good governance essay pdf good governance essay css good governance essay competition good governance essay with outline good governance in pakistan essay pdf article on good governance
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