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Overcoming Trust Deficit

A nation should enjoy peace, political stability, national unity and social cohesion in an environment of democracy and political and social tolerance. Trust and confidence are fundamental building blocks for relations among people, within societies and among nations.

They are essential in our everyday life and a cornerstone of any society. Confidence and trust are critical lubricants for economic activity which make investors, employers, policy makers and consumers willing to do business with each other, which in turn drives spending, investing and growth.

However, due to corruption, people are losing trust in all state institutions. Most of the people believe that the country is on the wrong track. Political parties are seen as the most corrupt class of organisation.

A majority of people believe that their government is ineffective at fighting corruption and corruption in their country is getting worse.

Political leadership and commitment to fight corruption at the highest levels are one of the pertinent issues in Pakistan. Such organised crime feeds underdevelopment. It requires tangible progress in establishing the legal and institutional framework to tackle corruption, but at the same time, there is now an increasingly apparent absence of a clear demonstration of political will to fight corruption.

Corruption has eaten so deep into the fabric of our society, that no segment can claim immunity from its ugly effects, not even religious bodies. In places where trust breaks down, economic development gets damaged. Today, everybody is aware of the real picture of what is happening in every establishment in Pakistan be it private or public.

The signs are everywhere: Pakistanis have lost trust in the public institutions and political parties. The erosion of trust in government has been brought about by many factors including the inefficient and ineffective delivery of services, waste of public resources, graft and corruption, lack of integrity, poor leadership, excessive red tape, inefficient reorganisation and structural changes, too much centralization, among other things during the previous regime.

The situation becomes worse with the politicians who because of the quest for power manipulate votes and rig elections. The over trust on money and material has reduced confidence in fellow men.

Thus, every political party when in power try to amass maximum wealth personally and for their party to hold on power for the next election, making use of all the democratic organs of the government. The judges are not left out. As a result of corruption, justice is perverted in favour of the election riggers who can pay their way through. It also affects the government, and it seems nothing can be done about it.

Corruption determines the misuse of Governments’ resources by diverting them from sectors of vital importance such as health, education and development. Poor people are deprived of economic growth and development opportunities. The price of public services rises to the point that economically deprives people can no longer afford them. Corruption feeds poverty and inequality. Growing socioeconomic inequality causes the loss of confidence in public institutions.

Social instability and violence increase because of the growing inequality, poverty and mass mistrust of political leaders and institutions. Trust is necessary for a stable economy, and prosecuting the criminals, kerbing corruption, improving law and order situation, and strictly enforcing the rule of law is a need to restore trust. But all these things are non-existent in Pakistan. Our whole economy has been affected by variations in confidence.

The public is becoming increasingly suspicious of authorities and for good reasons. Private security companies are taking over more and more of the work to protect us. People have lost trust in public education. People are losing faith in themselves and the democratic institutions they themselves created to govern them. Nobody expresses confidence in the government agencies.

We lost it in politics because we know too much about politicians’ lives. We’ve lost it—that basic sense of trust and confidence—in everything.  It is essential that we develop trust among each other but also in the society we are living, its leadership and institutions, private or governmental.

Trust is fragile. It is easy to be destroyed and hard to be rebuilt. More than at any other point in time, what the country needs is an opportunity to trust its public institutions. High trust societies produce more output than low trust societies.

A fortiori, a sufficient amount of trust may be crucial to successful development. Trust can be raised directly by increasing communication and education, and indirectly by strengthening formal institutions and by reducing income inequality. Public sector institutions should be revamped to restore trust and promote good governance. Bureaucracies should be given the responsibility to provide the fundamental needs of the citizens and be advised to deliver services efficiently, effectively, and equitably.

Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives. Good policy initiates a virtuous circle: policies that raise trust efficiently, improve living standards, raise civil liberties, enhance institutions, and reduce corruption, further increasing trust.

Trust rule of law is thus the foundation of abiding prosperity.  Smart investment, wise regulations and fair taxation are the things that restore economic confidence in the real world. The Government should cherish good governance and the rule of law in the process of creating wealth and sharing benefits in society and should seek to ensure that its people are empowered with the capacity to make their leaders and public servants accountable.

Good governance should have permeated the national socio-economic structure thereby ensuring a culture of accountability, rewarding good performance and effectively kerbing corruption and other vices in society.

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