Governance is the exercise of authority to address public affairs. This authority can be political, economic or administrative. The use of this authority is always based upon certain rules and laws of society established by its members. Good governance is to run administration according to these defined laws for the welfare of the people. Bad governance means digression or subversion from these laws. Good governance guarantees safety and security of the people and creates an atmosphere conducive to progress and prosperity. Bad governance begets a number of social crises.

Good governance comes through strong and independent institutions of the state. These institutions need to be built, sustained and stronger than individuals. Unfortunately, a little effort has been made to build institutions on a stable footing in Pakistan since independence and individuals have taken precedence over institutions. Pakistan suffers from a number of crises but the crisis of good governance is on top because it is the core of all other problems. Our country is suffering from weak institutional set-up, political instability, rampant corruption, lack of accountability and transparency and bad law and order situation. All these issues have seriously pushed off the country to an abysmal state of poor governance.

Every government looks down upon the policies of the previous government, throws those away and establishes new ones. Due to bad governance education, health, civic services, agricultural infrastructure are all in bad state. Even the most basic social needs of citizens are not fulfilled. Law and ordered situation is deteriorating and people are being robbed and killed in bright day light. People don’t feel safe and secure. Places of worship have to be guarded for the fear of terrorism. This sorry state of law and order scare the investors away from the country thereby severely harming the economy.

One of the most damaging effects of bad governance is the prevalence of corruption that ultimately results in lawlessness and the biggest hindrance in the way of development. The absence of impartial and independent accountability has resulted in the growth of this monster. It has become a norm in our society rather than an exception.

Good Governance stands for poverty alleviation. It has always been a favourite buzzword in our economic and social development circles. Almost every democratic government has launched poverty reduction programs but all proved futile and ended in corruption. Accountability is a crucial point in good governance – the rulers and the institutions of the state are accountable to people. But, it is very hard to find it in Pakistan’s weak institutional set-up.

Merit or fairness is essential for good governance and the both support each other. But in our country merit is given least importance. Nepotism and favouritism are the order of the day. Our once very strong institutions like PIA, Pakistan Railway, Pakistan Steel etc. are now in state of paralyse. All the cities in any province is not getting equal share of development. Developing one city in any province at the cost of basic facilities, like hospitals, schools and colleges, clean drinking water etc., of the other cities is another example of bad governance. One city gets the road network, underpasses and overhead bridges and the others don’t have the basic road network. This disparity has created bad feelings among people living in small cities. Similarly, unemployment, illiteracy are other aspects which speak volume about sorry state of governance.

People at the helm of affairs need to understand that good governance is more than mere management. It is not only about decision making, policy formulating but also priority settings, implementation and getting results. Transparency, legitimacy, merit and the rule of law are the important pillars of good governance. Politicians and other state officials in the power corridor make illegal appointments in various public offices. They could appoint inept people without merit on political grounds, for the sake of money, favouritism and nepotism.

The civil servants, police and NAB are not fully autonomous in their decree to work. All are under severe political pressure. None of them is granted full independence, to bring the criminals to justice and inquire the cases of big guns. These are powerful institutions, which need considerable attention to de-politicise their structures. These institutions should be given absolute autonomy to bring the corrupt people before the law.

Good governance is a prerequisite for social harmony, public order, political stability, economic prosperity and certainty about future. It delivers the fruit of progress and development evenly to all and sundry. Good governance is required at all levels of society and state. Government needs to focus seriously on this issue to accomplish satisfactory results. We must not allow the erosion of institutions through the idiosyncratic behaviour of rulers. No state is free of all crises but it is the quality of governance that ensures its survival through any crisis.