Transparency International report

Survey keeps police, judiciary as the most corrupt departments

The Transparency International Pakistan’s National Corruption Perception Survey found that the police is seen as the country’s most corrupt institution, followed by tendering and contracting, and then the judiciary. It need not be argued that these are only perceptions. After all, there is no smoke without fire. This shows also that the money thrown at the corruption problem has not really worked. True, no one should argue that the increases in salaries and perks should be taken back. However, merely increasing salaries and perks, even if possible, would not solve the problem. If a fault is to be identified, it has to be at the level of accountability. Clearly, the accountability mechanisms are defective, otherwise this perception would not exist.

The police accountability mechanism is the same as that of other government departments. That means that there is no public input or oversight. This was envisaged in the public safety commission system, which followed the Japanese model, but it was not operationalised, mainly because rulers, both elected and non-elected, do not want a just police, but one which will obey instructions without asking embarrassing questions about legality. There is no concept of police forces having an Internal Affairs Department, whose members come from the police force, but do not go back to routine police work. The same is the case with judges. While the perception of corruption afflicts the subordinate judiciary more, the superior judiciary, while not suspected of taking bribes, being seen as indulging their political preferences. The Superior judiciary has the Supreme Judicial Council mechanism, to supervise it, but the membership of the SJC is subject to the same sort of criticism as the police: the SJC means getting judges to sit on brother judges. Another problem that has been revealed in the recent past is that certain organizations try to arrange for favourable judgements by ensuring that judges are compromised, especially in the lower judiciary.

The perception about the police and the judiciary mean that society as a whole does not believe that it will bet a fair shake, or that the rule of law prevails. This is something that political leaders need to handle, and that too for purely selfish reasons. They should realize that without respect for the law, society will not obey them. If the law does not rule, then only brute force does.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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