Governance evaluation



January 14, 2023

Governance evaluation

Governance evaluation is required to be measured by the yardstick of performance. This is the make-or-break principle followed in democratic governance practices the world over. Though civilian democratic governance in Pakistan has been impeded more often than not but the collective urge to adhere to democratic values appears to be getting strengthened with time. However, the vital pattern of evaluating a government’s credibility in terms of its overall performance is badly missing. Politics in Pakistan is still riddled by rhetoric, mud-slinging and tall promises.
Politics is no doubt the art of the possible but every possibility is required to be measured ultimately by its outcome. It is surely not feasible to perfunctorily evaluate the performance of a ruling dispensation just by believing in the press statements issued by it from time to time. The efficacy of a government’s actions could also not be measured by recent expensive advertising campaigns that became the hallmark of federal as well as provincial governments who spent scarce financial resources on self-publication despite realising that such publicity does not wash with the skeptical analysis of the public at large.
The media undoubtedly is the most potent watchdog for assessing performance of a government but owing to the strict adherence of secrecy in official rank and file it rarely becomes privy to the most activities undertaken. Governmental actions are cloaked in secrecy and are very opaque in nature. It took years to size up the actual scope of CPEC and that too partially but that too was vehemently denied by official circles. The government followed the Chinese example of keeping CPEC under wraps though it came to power through an open electoral contest unlike Chinese cabal of leadership.
Pakistani governance system very cleverly shifts the onus of governance from performance to accountability conveniently ignoring that accountability is an inherent characteristic of performance. The simple formula is to measure the output with the input gone into it and reach conclusions but in Pakistan things are made so murky that it becomes difficult to separate wheat from the chaff. To further complicate the situation is the gullibility of the public opinion that also has the problematic tendency to forget things rather quickly.
Curiously enough, all political configurations keep on insisting on judging governance performance before seeking vote and also emphasise it to be the central theme of forthcoming elections. However, within the very ranks of political elements there are different shades of opinion that are assiduously trying to avoid the issue and are instead basing their electoral claims on factors other than performance. It is surely unhealthy to give more attention to hollow campaign slogans of the parties who have nothing to offer in terms of their actual performance.
It must be taken into account that all current political contestants were given ample opportunity to govern but they have not much to show. The general consensus is that all political dispensations were headed and managed by unwieldy bunch of ego-stricken politicos who fought for mundane advantages to the extent that they removed their own-appointed head responsible for carrying out accountability. Whether at federal or provincial level these contestants have displayed the worst possible record with their governance completely neglected public welfare. Their stints in power have actually brought out the worst in their ranks and have resulted in besmirching their public standing.
With the advantage of hindsight it could be clearly deduced that Pakistani political operators have not been able to get rid of the slogans raised decades ago. They appear to be existing in a time warp completely oblivious of tremendous changes taking place around them. More problematic is the fact that they have consistently refused to learn from their past performances and rectify their mistakes accordingly. It may be very unfair to qualify any single political element by giving it grace marks as such an approach would certainly be self-defeating. Though the political elements consistently try to convince people through media campaigns that their governance record was second to none the actual picture is very murky and far from satisfactory.
The issue of governance evaluation is required to be the most potent point to debate in electoral campaigns. People should be educated to judge political elements on the basis of their performance. They should be told that any political party that has performed well carries very good chance of repeating its performance. It must be emphasised that the beginning and end of the political governance is to fulfill needs and wants of the people as it is the only reason that people vote political parties to power. There should be no ambiguity in conveying this message to the people and media should gear up to bring this point home. It is the essential responsibility of the media to make people aware of giving preference to performance while casting their vote as public opinion is universally rated to be gullible and prone to get carried away by political pranksters. TW


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