Opening Pakistan

Sara Khan in Islamabad

There aren’t many international forums where Pakistan can partake and chip in on equal footing with other countries. Depending upon your own understanding or prejudice for that matter, call it the geopolitical grand design or internal politics that is bogging us down.

There is one notable exception; Open Government Partnership that has snowballed into a massive initiative after US President Obama’s memo on open government. It is a new multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

Over 50 governments have joined Open Government Partnership and not everyone is welcome. In South Asia, only Nepal, India and Pakistan are eligible to join.

This is an asset. It provides the government a unique opportunity to redeem the trust of our own people and also of international community. It will help in relaying the message that Pakistan is dedicated in making everyday governance more transparent and accountable to her own people.

So why do we need Open Government in Pakistan anyway?

• Cases like Rs 26 billion Pakistan Steel Mills corruption can be checked for/nipped in the bud in the future

• Opaque management of US $ 5 Billion per annum that Pakistan receives in aid.

• Pakistan’s federal budget for fiscal year 2011-12 stands at 3.767 trillion rupees. How much of it will go unaccounted for?

• Increased transparency on energy sector and the current crisis that has bogged down the economy as well as impacted ordinary Pakistanis

• Enhance citizen participation and equip people with information about government money so that they can demand better services from the government.

• Institutionalise and deepen/broaden democracy

Local Interventions Group is focusing on two Open Government policy areas for Pakistan; Aid Transparency and Service Delivery. Challenges are enormous and daunting. But opportunities to engage are bigger than ever. The world is embracing Open Government. We lose this prospect at our own peril.

Local Interventions Group’s Open Government programme in Pakistan is currently in research phase. LIG will start scoping and identifying right stakeholders and consulting with them in August 2012. Following a primer-synthesis report in autumn 2012, LIG will launch policy level engagements and devise further programs. Further details can be obtained from our Pakistan Team Leader Sara Khan by writing to her at sara@localinterventions.org.uk

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