The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) finally managed to pass one of its landmark pieces of legislation, the Whistleblower and Vigilance Commission Bill 2016 in its attempt to curb corruption in government departments. Under the new law, anyone who identifies corruption or financial irregularities in state departments will receive as much as 30 percent of the amount as an incentive. Anyone falsely accusing another of corruption could be fined and imprisoned for up to three years. A commission will be formed that will look to protect the rights and identity of the whistleblower. The most important aspect of this new law however, is the fact that it attempts to protect the anonymity of the whistleblower, which might make it easy for people to raise their voice.

The KPK government must be commended for being the first province to take a legitimate step towards countering corruption, but it remains to be seen whether it will be as effective as PTI wants it to be. PTI’s previous election campaign, and most likely the upcoming one, was and will be centred around corruption within the arms of the state, and how it holds the answer to this problem. The next year and a half will be indicative of whether the party can actually make a lasting impact on curbing corruption in the province. If successful, the party will can shun its mantle of the ‘inexperienced party that makes tall claims,’ and if it plays all of its cards right, can use this to make the electorate believe that the party has the ability to fulfil promises made.

It is slightly perturbing however, that the state has to rely on monetary incentive to inculcate civic duty in the general public. There hasn’t been much in the way of an anti-corruption campaign in the country. The most we have seen is a few anti-corruption posters scattered here and there in the federal capital. The KPK government is fighting to protect the right principle, but whether it is doing it in the best of ways is still questionable. The long term goal of developing a moral compass and looking out for the public good still remains unaddressed.

Though still a far-cry from eliminating corruption in the province, the new Bill does give opposition parties in KPK the ability to raise their voice against any excesses committed by the sitting government for personal gain. And if for nothing else, the new legislation is welcome.