The hallmark of a nation’s prosperity and economic well-being lies in its governance, a pivotal indicator of success. However, achieving economic goals and holistic development requires not just strong institutions but also well-justified policies. The World Bank defines good governance as the art of public officials and institutions harnessing authority to shape public policies and deliver essential services. Cultural nuances, the global environment, and a nation’s socio-economic condition, in turn, shape these institutions. The crux of governance credibility rests upon transparency, efficiency, accountability, and impartiality. While governance’s purpose centers on delivering goods and services, fostering equality and upholding justice, intricate factors such as political and social frameworks, cultural dynamics, geographical landscapes, and economic circumstances influence its path.
However, a disconcerting pattern emerges in Pakistan’s recent history—witnessed as a diminishing quality of governance and dwindling institutional trust. The decline in institutional capacity is responsible for the deterioration in macroeconomic stability, economic contraction, and weakened governance foundations. This collision of powerful interests and weakened institutional strength undermines the very essence of governance. Crafting policies might seem straightforward, yet their successful implementation is an intricate puzzle. Once an institution lays its foundation, changing its course becomes a challenging task uphill. Institutions, like pyramids, have a resilient core that resists easy replacement. In contrast, advanced nations focus on fortifying institutions from the outset, allowing subsequent governments to recalibrate policies while retaining overarching objectives.
Pakistan’s perpetual oscillation between civilian and military governments has cast a shadow on sustained economic transformations. Civilian administrations often chase short-term economic gains to bolster electoral support, whereas military regimes strive for civilian legitimacy through economic incentives. The recurring theme of political instability remains a chronic ailment that afflicts Pakistan’s economic landscape. Frequent shifts in power hinder policy execution and create a void in consistency. Unlike developed countries, where succeeding governments uphold the policies of their predecessors, Pakistan faces disruptions. The current regime might halt or even reverse previous initiatives, exacerbating economic hardships and squandering public funds.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stands as a cornerstone for national growth, yet Pakistan grapples to attract significant FDI due to prevailing volatility. The unpredictability of civilian tenures dissuades foreign entities from committing capital. Interestingly, during military rule, the stability that prevails encourages substantial FDI, bolstered by the assurance it provides. Trust forms the bedrock of a nation’s economic fabric. In an uncertain environment, market fluctuations deter private investments. The practice of patronage and cronyism, which grants special privileges like tax exemptions, licensing advantages, and tariff concessions to favored individuals, breeds skepticism. Such practices impede economic growth, perpetuate a lack of rule of law, amplify institutional frailty, and fuel illicit markets.
Nations marred by political instability and ethnic divisions face several challenges. These include sluggish economic growth, feeble adherence to the rule of law, inadequate institutional health, and rampant black market activities. In summary, robust economic governance hinges on elements such as transparency, accountability, political stability, rule of law, continuity, and eradicating corruption. To spur economic growth and cultivate investor confidence, Pakistan must confront its governance challenges holistically. By fostering stability, ensuring policy continuity, and championing transparent governance, Pakistan can embark on a transformative journey toward sustainable prosperity.
Niamat Ullah Harifal is a student in the school of sociology at Quaid I Azam university islamabad.