Corruption remains a substantial obstacle for Pakistan where it is still perceived to be widespread and systemic. Petty corruption in the form of bribery is prevalent in law enforcement, procurement and the provision of public services. The judiciary is not seen as independent and considered to be shielding corrupt political practices from prosecution. Various efforts over the past years have tried to develop institutional mechanisms to address these problems. A National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which was developed in 2002, offers a comprehensive plan for tackling corruption. The executing agency, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), is endowed with comprehensive powers to investigate and prosecute cases. However, a lack of political will, coupled with the perceived co-option of the judiciary and the arbitrariness of many anti-corruption proceedings, are major obstacles in the fight against corruption.
Anti-corruption proceedings have long been suspected of being skewed. They are mainly directed against members of the political opposition and minor civil servants while leaving the conduct of military officials outside scrutiny. Moreover the National Reconciliation Ordinance of October 2007 has granted blanket immunity for past corrupt actions, shielding many public officials and members of the government from prosecution. The dismissal of members of the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Chaudhry, has led to violent civil unrest and further shaken the public’s trust in the judiciary to undertake anti-corruption prosecution.
Recent political history
Political turbulence and insecurity have dominated Pakistan over the last 50 years, marked by frequent regime changes and unrest. Between 1990 and 1999, four different democratically-elected governments held power under the same two political leaders. Each administration was either dismissed or overturned, often as a result of corruption charges and allegations of power...