Critics of the armed forces of Pakistan usually cite the country’s beleaguered political history as evidence.Indeed, since independence in 1947, three military takeovers (1958–1971, 1977–1988, 1999–2008) have disrupted democratic governments.Third, Musharraf’s loyalist party, the PML-Q, lost to its rival political parties in the February 2008 general elections, after a country-wide protest movement that contested Musharraf’s rule in 2007.
Fourth, the PPP’s tenure, tainted by allegations of misuse of power and mismanagement, contributed towards the overwhelming victory of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the May 2013 general elections.
As a result, the PML-N came to power and brought the accountability institutions under its control.
When supposedly independent state institutions are used to serve the interests of the governing party, this process is called “politicization” of institutions (Pierre 2004:3).
The politicization of state institutions takes place not only in recent states with hybrid regimes or defective democracies but also in old democracies with established rule-of-law traditions (Peters, Falk, and Pierre 2004).
with an analysis of anti-corruption laws—the Ehtesab Ordinance, 1996, the Ehtesab Act, 1997, and the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999—, this article examines the entanglement of accountability procedures with the actual struggle over power, an entanglement so deep that it shapes both the constitution and the evolution of anti-corruption organizations.
The first section of the article discusses the political factors that have played a crucial role in the formation of Pakistan’s anti-corruption organizations.
In Pakistan, the struggle over power often provokes people to spin the law towards their own interests and (mis)use state institutions to reach political ends.
Under such conflictual circumstances, anti-corruption institutions are frequently used by the people in power to persecute opposition parties. First, it attempts to show that political disputes and the conflict between civilian and military authorities have not only led to the foundation of anti-corruption agencies at the national level—the Ehtesab Cell (EC) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB)—but also created a bias against civilian institutions in the legal provisions that regulate their activity.
The second section turns to the legal provisions underpinning accountability institutions and argues that the anti-corruption legal system tends to favor powerful individuals over weaker ones.
The third section analyzes the actual performance of anti-corruption agencies to show that political considerations have largely influenced their conduct.