Governance is generally conceived of as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority in the public and private spheres to manage a country’s affair at all levels to improve the quality of life of the people. It is a continuing process where divergent opinions and desires are satisfied through compromise and tolerance in a spirit of cooperative action for the mutual benefit of the larger whole. It has three dimensions: one, the political regime; two, the systems and procedures for exercising authority; and three, the capacity of governments
Since independence, Pakistan has been beset by political instability and unrest which has created a black hole in the country’s economic development and progress. Good governance cannot be established the presence of political disorder and power-hungry politicians.
After independence Pakistan took long seven years to draft a Constitution. It also created barriers in the path of governance. A charter provides a framework for policies. Decisions have been taken in order to view constitutional boundaries.
Military interventions are tumultuous for a country. It has an adverse impact on the decision-making process while tarnishing the image of Pakistan.
Feudal dispensation in the early years of establishment created a big gap in the development process. Wealthy and corrupted feudal class joined hands with politicians. Corrupt bureaucrats were also engaged in cleaning the wealth of people. All this reasoned to failure of governance in Pakistan. In the presence of institutional clashes, governance cannot establish its foothold. The recent clash between the executive and the judiciary has created disturbance around the whole country. Negative image has been portrayed around the whole globe. Good governance needs a stable political environment to flourish.
The government should formulate effective measures to solve this massive issue. Lack of accountability, improper use of funds, is increasing the rate of inflation. The country is under debt crises, primarily due to the absence of accountability. Corruption can easily be dealt with proper channel of accountability and thorough check and balance of the funds. To top it all, declining law and order situation of Pakistan has created a sense of fear and insecurity. Pakistan’s involvement in international conspiracies too has become the norm of the day.
The essentials for good governance to thrive are: public participation, national consistency, national integration, constitutional supremacy, institutional supremacy, strong foundation, independent judiciary, media independence and socioeconomic development. Both democracy and good governance are interconnected. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Democracy is for the people by the people and through the people.” Active participation of the masses is important for a democratic setup.
Public participation in political decision-making is pivotal to good governance. Public support and cooperation possesses great importance in good governance. It covers the way for good governance. Constitutional supremacy is very important in this regard. It provides a framework for policymakers. Socioeconomic development provides a strong foundation to governance. It is inclusive and covers the majority of the population, while offering massive employment opportunities and a proper education system to the masses. There is also rule of law, a powerful system of accountability and eradication of corruption, etc.
The difference between good and bad governance is no science to deduce. Good governance totally revolves around legitimacy, responsibility, rule of law and transparent administrative system, whereas bad governance indicates a propensity towards arbitrary policymaking as opposed to the rule of law. Bad governance breeds an unfair legal system and poisons relations between the ruler and the ruled.
On societal front, the society is becoming radicalized and people are becoming less tolerant and forbearing. This has also led to exploitation of religion, as ‘mullahs’ have proved to be an eclipse to the true essence of Islam as they play with people’s minds to expand their money-making businesses. However, the government is not ready to take action against such bad eggs and there is no clear distinction between the state and religious entities, if they legitimize one another, is a simple yet a huge question. This further makes us realize how the government is following a closed system of governance, where the public seems not to be aware of their economic agendas or their strategies in general. In a democratic state, this perhaps is an unavoidable flaw, thus leading to bad governance.
As I conclude this debate of good governance, one realizes how democracy and good governance go hand in hand. In case of Pakistan’s version of democracy, the elected representatives grossly violate the public mandate for obtaining their selfish and materialistic gains. Regrettably, voters, after having elected their representatives, virtually become subjects of powerful elite who tend to shatter all hopes of voters by neglecting their social problems, financial difficulties and psychological distress. Promises made during election campaign are quickly forgotten, while perks of public offices are fully enjoyed. Irony of the fate is that same elite group gets elected over and over again and election campaigns are held merely as rituals. Unfortunately, voters lack social influence and political power, becoming trading pawns in the hands of politicians who regard elections as opening of a window to plundering national wealth through all possible means of corruption.
Therefore, to develop a culture of good governance in Pakistan, we need to focus and interpret the true essence and definition of ‘democracy’ and make it a salient feature of good governance. While at the same time, the parameters needed for good governance, as mentioned previously, need to be implemented in all their authenticity.