It is a matter of great shame that Pakistan was ranked as the 34th most corrupt country in 2010. Unfortunately, this dubious distinction has been earned over the past 63 years of our existence under the decadent colonial system of governance with inbuilt avenues of corruption and misuse of power. Corruption is defined as an unlawful conduct intended to secure a benefit for oneself, or for somebody else. Its forms include bribery, misuse of authority or inside information and extortion. It exists where a community or a society is indifferent, or there is a lack of enforcement policies. In the legal domain, corruption means abuse of public trust, act of bribing, embezzlement, act of profiteering, breach of trust, complicity, unscrupulousness, venality and wickedness. Perceived in the backdrop of the foregoing, corruption is a social ailment and no society is or can claim to be completely immune from this cancerous affliction. However, the degree of corruption differs from society to society depending on the health and efficacy of the system of governance. It is a universally recognised fact that tackling corruption is basically the responsibility of the governments, who are supposed to devise such policies and systems of governance, which are designed to eliminate corrupt practices from the government machinery; encourage ethical behaviour within the society; and are also geared to ensure social, political and economic progress in conformity with the aspirations of the people. For the governments to be able to deliver on these cherished goals, it is also imperative to have an inbuilt accountability mechanism in place to check the indiscreet and corrupt behaviour of the bureaucracy and public representatives. Therefore, the best system of governance is where there is an indiscriminate and across-the-board accountability of the public representatives and the government functionaries. Pakistan, regrettably, has a very dismal record regarding corruption and good governance. It has remained a victim of the politics of graft and entitlement that facilitated and strengthened the avenues of corruption and corrupt practices among the ruling and elite classes, both of whom have been the accessories and beneficiaries of the rampant corruption that through its trickledown effect has also muddied the entire social fabric. The accountability apparatus put in place by the previous regimes - both military and civilian - through executive orders and ordinances were extensively used to target the opponents of the regimes, rather than to ensure across-the-board accountability. In certain cases, it also endorsed and strengthened avenues of corruption in the name of accountability. The concept of plea bargain practiced by the NAB during the previous regime is a mockery of accountability. These discriminatory accountability initiatives, which are still casting their evil shadow on our political horizon and obstructing the endeavours to improve the system of governance, were taken with impunity in the past, while the pliant judiciary looked the other way. It is, however, encouraging to note that efforts are afoot to offload the dirty baggage of the past. For the first time in the history of Pakistan a discernible change is in the offing with regard to accountability and to improve the system of governance. A serious effort is underway to bring in a legislation to install an accountability apparatus, which ensures across-the-board accountability. The government is engaged in intense deliberations with the political forces in Parliament to make sure that the new legislation enjoys consensus. Undoubtedly, it will be a challenging task for the political leadership to put the country back on the right track. We also have a judiciary that has exhibited remarkable independence and commitment to curb corruption, and punish those who have plundered the nations wealth through corrupt practices. As a consequence of the court decision on NRO, some of the ministers have appeared in the courts personally to clear their names - something that was unimaginable during the previous regimes. The esteem in which the present government holds the judiciary is amply indicated by the fact that it ungrudgingly accepted the observations of the Supreme Court on certain sections of the Eighteenth Amendment and lost no time in bringing Nineteenth Amendment to give them a constitutional cover. The passing of Eighteenth amendment and seventh NFC Award are definitely big leaps towards good governance. The government made sure that all these measures enjoyed consensus and support of all the political forces. The media has also enjoyed unprecedented independence ever since the restoration of democracy. It has played a vital role in unmasking corruption, and pinpointing the flaws in the system of governance. Thus, the foregoing facts are certainly positive developments, which represent a new culture of accountability and political tolerance. The writer is a freelance columnist.