The improvement of Pakistan’s ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) might make it seem like things are improving, but the reality is hardly that simple. Pakistan is placed at 117 out of a total of 168 countries with a score of thirty out of a 100, with score in the range of 0-50 indicating a high level of corruption. An analysis of Pakistan’s standing over the past four years shows an improvement of a point each year, which is evidence of the fact that this change is not due to the government’s efforts. There have been very limited steps initiated towards more transparent governance in the past year. However, FIA and NAB’s efforts in 2015 seem to have borne some fruit.

Being 117 of 168 is hardly something to be proud of. As far as positives go, one of the previous year’s highlights was the FIA’s diligent efforts to uncover evidence of the massive Axact scandal. NAB claimed to have recovered 50 % of the amount in the rental power scam in March 2015 and re-arrested the key accused in the Modarba case last month after the promised restitution did not materialise. However, punishing those accused is only half the deterrent. There needs to be a sustained and unbiased crackdown on corruption; potential violators will think twice before indulging in it in the future. Instilling transparency in all government departments is the third tier to solving this problem. The government must keep all of its dealings on record and make these available for oversight by both international and national monitors. As the party in power, PML-N has had no narrative against corruption so far. Instead, with initiatives such as the tax amnesty scheme, many corrupt traders will be able to convert their black money into legal stores of wealth.

Up till now, the emphasis has been only on bringing selected high-profile cases to the forefront. A continuous effort against using public power for private gain is non-existent. Of course, with pending cases against so many of the leaders lying unsolved, it is unlikely that the Nawaz government will take too strong a stance against corruption. While it is the state’s responsibility to ensure that corruption does not take root, the civil society also has a large part to play in ending the menace. The onus to speak out against corruption is on every individual that witnesses corruption, be it a direct form such as bribery, or the more elusive type – nepotism. Pakistan has a long way to go before transparency becomes an intrinsic part of society and the results of CPI should be taken with a grain of salt.