From the day one of its existence, Pakistan became afflicted with a common scourge called corruption, although it did not inherit it. The Colonial system – harsh and stern as it was – was largely free from it and cannot be blamed for that.

Unfortunately during more than six decades of its history Pakistan has enjoyed the sordid distinction of being among the most corrupt countries in the world.

Feudal character of its system of governance and bureaucratic red tape are just two main reasons why the menace has been thriving. An entire culture of graft and entitlement thrives because of the way our politics work; how ministers get things done is no secret and also the state of our state machinery and how much it has been corroded is more than obvious.

Also it must not be forgotten that the country has remained under martial laws for more than half its existence. And instead of reforming the system, the dictators concentrated more on prolonging their own rule.

Meanwhile, the politicians also remained oblivious to the need for reforms. A segment perpetuated the archaic colonial system of governance to serve their own vested interests. The result of this criminal apathy of the rulers to reform the system scuttled the ability of the state to deliver essential services to the people or to ensure social and economic justice.

Some agencies of the UN and global organizations like Transparency International keep a constant watch on the prevalent corruption around the world and based on their assessments issue annual reports on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Pakistan has invariably figured on the top, hopping onto still higher scales with every passing year. Transparency International Report for 2012 issued by the agency revealed that compared to 2011, Pakistan had gone from the 42nd most corrupt country in the world to 33rd most corrupt country on the CPI index.

However, for the first time in the history of the dear homeland, the trend seems to have been reversed. The CPI index for the year 2013 released by the Transparency International shows Pakistan to have gone down on the corruption scale by almost ten points, which is a substantial and positive gain indicating that the demon is out of the powers of the state to control.

It also indicates improvement in governance as no major corruption scandal has been unearthed by the ever vigilant Transparency International and the media. Still a deliberate and conscious attempt ought to be made particularly if the higher echelons of the political  and administrative system are to be cleansed of the rot.

There are also steps in the offing to remove the inadequacies of the eighteenth amendment and bringing other constitutional amendments to improve governance. The government is presently engaged in a consultative process with the parties represented in the parliament but at the end of the day nothing would work until and unless checks and balances are put in place and in every and at each level of administrative cadre.

Consider just how a modern polling machine can help bring rigging to an end. The recently introduced software system meant to keep land record likewise could turn out to be an incredible step. It could, in all conscience bid farewell to the Patwari who is so powerful and holds so much control over the area under his jurisdiction that he can cook the books and snatch anyone’s land just in a matter of hours. People are so much afraid of Patwaris that they pay them a seasonal, “faslana” so that they don’t grab their land or mess with them in any other way. Those who can pay end up losing their property or worse get dragged in painful litigation.

It goes without saying that good governance is about bringing political and economic reforms, maintaining law and order, free access to information and data, improving and strengthening judicial system etc but how well and how closely these governmental departments are watched and scrutinized matters the most. With modern technology, there is no reason why, corruption cannot be wiped out. But do we have the will to do it?

The writer is a freelance columnist.