FeaturedNationalVolume 13 Issue # 23

Pakistan’s low score on rule of law index

It is a well-known fact that Pakistan is a terrorist infested country and its people are among the most vulnerable in the world. Now this fact has been highlighted by a new report on the rule of law over the globe by the World Justice Project.

According to the report, the people of Pakistan are the least protected in the world against terrorism and armed conflict. The Rule of Law Index for 2017-2018 has ranked Pakistan at the bottom of the Order and Security performance indicator in their annual evaluation. Pakistan is listed at 105 out of 113 nations worldwide in the overall classification, with the country managing to score only 0.39/1, with 1 indicating the strongest adherence to the rule of law.

According to the authors of the report, the assessment is aimed at providing a portrait of the rule of law in various countries by measuring eight indicators based on the experience of the general public and the opinion of subject experts. The eight indicators are constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.

Pakistan has fared poorly in almost all indicators designed to quantify adherence to the rule of law, but its performance in relation to order and security was especially has been especially dismal, the score being only 0.32.However, there is a silver lining. The report acknowledges that Pakistan is among a handful of lower-middle-income countries in which the rule of law was improving. This was largely due to the fact that Pakistan has improved its score of the previous year by 0.01, and as a result, moved up one place in the rankings.

As usual, the Scandinavian countries are the top scorers, with Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden occupying the first four positions. European countries like Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom and Austria also feature in the top ten. At the bottom of the index are countries like Venezuela, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Egypt. African nations Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia are also ranked low, along with other nations like Bolivia and Pakistan.

The report has not only tried to rank countries based on the perceived law and order situation but also categorised them according to their region and the mean income of the population. The former is meant to put the domestic troubles of a nation into the wider regional context, while the latter aims to understand the correlation between development and conflict.

Region-specific analysis of the index indicates that European and North American countries are way ahead of the rest of the world in terms of implementing the rule of law in their region, with countries in these areas scoring an average of 0.74 on the listing. East Asian and Pacific nations are second most orderly, and scored an average of 0.60, while Sub-Saharan African countries and South Asian nations are ranked at the bottom, with average scores of 0.47 and 0.45 respectively.

Analysing the Rule of Law Index 2017-2018 in light of the average income of countries, we find that the results provide an interesting correlation between prosperity and law and order. The low-income countries from Africa and South Asia scored 0.45 on the annual evaluation and featured at the bottom part of the index. High-income countries from Europe, North America and East Asia scored an average of 0.74, and were ranked in the upper half of the index. The report has also provided country-specific profiles of the listing and tabulated the individual contributing factors which were responsible for the low score of Pakistan on the index.

The index measures constraints on the powers of the government, using six sub-indicators. These include such factors as whether government powers were effectively limited by the legislature, judiciary, and independent auditing and review. In addition to these, three other factors were also included, measuring whether government officials were sanctioned for misconduct, whether the government was subject to non-government checks and whether the transition of power in the country was subject to the rule of law.

Pakistan scored 0.53 on this performance indicator overall. In the South Asia region, this score earned Pakistan fourth position out of six countries, while globally, in terms of this indicator alone, Pakistan was ranked 66 out of 113 nations. According to the World Justice Project, the country performed most poorly in two sub-indicators. One was sanctioning government officials for misconduct, where Pakistan scored only 0.38. The other was the lawful transition of power, where the country scored 0.54.

These scores highlight how officials in the executive, legislature, judiciary, and the police in Pakistan are not investigated, prosecuted, and punished for official misconduct and other violations while they are in office. The report further underlined that smooth transitions of power in Pakistan has been problematic and a source of instability for the country. The results raise credible concerns about the integrity of the electoral process, including access to the ballot, the absence of intimidation and public scrutiny of election results.

Four sub-indicators were used to measure the absence of corruption in Pakistani society. The report used various methods to calculate whether government officials in the executive, judiciary, military, police and the legislature used public office for private gain in the country. Pakistan scored very low in this performance indicator and only managed to get 0.33/1. This put the country at fifth place in South Asia, and 99/113 in the world. A closer look at the average score of the country on this measure of corruption revealed that the law-enforcement (0.30) and legislative (0.27) branches of Pakistan were the most corrupt, while the judiciary (0.38) was the least corrupt pillar of the state.