Pakistan needs social responsibility just as much as the anti-corruption drives of the state.
Pakistan needs social responsibility , ‘Accountability’ is a term that Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet frequently use. The ruling party hopes, with this one phrase, to turn the country’s fortunes around, taking back “looted” money stashed in foreign banks or invested in offshore property. There is no question that transparency is an essential pillar of government, regardless of how successful the transparency campaign has been to date.
The question to ask here, however, is: what kind of accountability? I came across the term ‘ social accountability ‘a few days ago. The United Nations (UN) defines “social accountability” as a form of accountability that emerges through actions by citizens, and civil society organizations, aimed at holding the state to account. It also requires attempts to help and respond to these actions by governments and other players-thus the public, the private sector, donors.
The UN further adds that the aim of social accountability is not to substitute, but to improve and supplement current structures of accountability. It can be used to hold officials accountable and accountable for governance issues and to prevent abuse of office. The United Nations adds that “social accountability has a powerful signaling function, particularly if the media is actively involved in exposing office misuse.”
Now, how does this differ from an accountability drive for Prime Minister Khan? The new transparency campaign was introduced at the grass-root level by the legislature, while social transparency is guided by the people. Social accountability is important on paper, as it relates directly to people’s problems. For eg, you urge your local representative to take it into account and try to fix it if you do not have access to a public school in your vicinity.
There are numerous forms of social responsibility that are followed in various parts of the world. One example is a movement in South Africa, where civil society is closely tracking public spending on women’s empowerment initiatives. In planning local government budgets, Brazil has a model where the society plays a part. In India, three cities have citizen report cards that empower them to mark their governments’ results.
There are many groups working to motivate the population to enforce a participatory form of government, also in Pakistan. More than 3,000 such civil society projects have encouraged individuals to rise up and ask for their proper share in 12 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Take a small village in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the Department of Public Health installed a tube well in 2013.