Home Editorial Editorial: Pakistan’s Perennial Rule of Law Problem

Editorial: Pakistan’s Perennial Rule of Law Problem

Without much-needed reforms aimed at ensuring the rule of law, the country will struggle to achieve the stability it needs for economic prosperity

by Editorial

File photo. Arif Ali—AFP

International organization World Justice Project issued its 2023 Rule of Law Index last month, ranking Pakistan at 130 out of 142 countries. Pakistan’s rank is based off several individual factors, including order and security (141/142); criminal justice (99/142); and fundamental rights (125/142). The data was partially based on an Extended General Population Poll in 2017, which conducted face-to-face interviews in 2,010 households distributed across Faisalabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta to gauge public perception on various themes related to government accountability, bribery and corruption, crime, and access to justice.

Per the report, there was a high perception of impunity in Pakistan, though perceptions on government accountability varies across cities, with respondents from Lahore the most optimistic while those from Quetta the most pessimistic. On institutions, Pakistanis believe a significant number of authorities were involved in corrupt practices, with police considered the most corrupt and judges and magistrates the least. The survey found over half of Pakistanis had paid bribes to receive assistance from police, while a quarter had paid bribes to process government permits. This is believed to worsen outside urban centers, with lower accountability for official crimes in far-flung regions.

According to the survey, rates of armed robbery were the highest in Karachi; burglary in Peshawar; and murder varied between 1 and 3 percent across all five cities. On criminal justice, incompetence of investigators was cited as the biggest barrier to investigations, while inadequate resources were cited as the most serious problem facing criminal courts. Unfortunately, the World Justice Project has not issued an updated survey, but the decline in fundamental rights and worsening security over the past 5 years suggests that rather than improving, Pakistan’s situation is worsening and without much-needed reforms, the country would be unable to achieve the stability it needs for economic prosperity.

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