The government may have made combating corruption the prime initiative of its agenda, yet the statistics don’t reveal it as so. Pakistan fell four places down in the global ranking of “Absence of Corruption” factor whereas our overall ranking in the rule of law index for the year 2020 has dropped by one position.

These rankings are based on the detailed report of the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2020. The Project bases its ranking off measuring factors such as constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice. Pakistan had initially made some gains in the previous year, as in 2019 Pakistan’s ranking was 117 and its total score was 0.39.

The decline in rankings needs to be taken seriously by the government. Since fighting corruption has been the forefront of the government’s aims, it needs to see which factors it has specifically underperformed in. A major decline has been in the “absence of corruption” region, where Pakistan fell by four positions down to 116th place. This means corruption with regards to public officials using their offices for private gain. Despite strengthening of corruption laws, Pakistan has still fallen behind in this specific factor, which indicates that implementation is weak, and the government needs to be stricter with regards to specific institutions of public service.

Another area where the government needs to be vigilant is that of “open government”, which contributes to the rankings, and where Pakistan has faced a severe decline. The PTI government needs to realise that merely cracking down on financial corruption is not enough to place itself in a good ranking—it needs to take measures to improve citizen participation in the process too. This includes less focus on political corruption cases, as has been the case, and instead prioritise more access to information, and freedom to the citizens to hold checks and balances against the government.