October 26; Daily ‘Dunya’ Lahore has published a series of baseless news stories in its issues of October 26, 2015 and on September 16, 2015.
Both the stories wrongly imply that the Government of the Punjab has assigned the task of preparing ‘a good governance report’ for the province of Punjab to PILDAT.
The story, apparently, has been built on the basis of a meeting which PILDAT attended with the representatives of various departments of the Punjab Government in the Planning and Development (P&D) Department as a follow up of PILDAT request for data on various aspects of Governance of the Punjab Government for the year 2014-2015.
While building this baseless story covered on September 16, 2015, the correspondent failed to realize that PILDAT has held exactly similar meetings with the officials of the governments of Balochistan (ruled by NP, PkMAP and PMLN coalition), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (ruled by PTI-led coalition), Sindh (ruled by PPP) and the Federal Government (ruled by the PML-N) not only this year but also last year. Every year PILDAT designs data request forms for 27 provincial Performance Parameters and 28 Federal Performance Parameters of Governance. These forms are sent to the Prime Minister’s Office to seek data from the Federal government and to the four Chief Ministers individually for obtaining provincial performance data. Each government, as per routine, appoints a focal person and department to facilitate the provision of data to PILDAT.
After sending these data request forms, follow-up meetings are held with the concerned governments to explain the intent of the data requests and to answer any questions that the concerned departments may have regarding the data requested. This exercise is undertaken to produce a data analysis report assessing the quality of governance in the Federation and the Four Provinces and Score-Cards as purely independent and non-partisan effort. A 25-member Governance Assessment Group consisting of eminent and experienced persons from the four provinces guides this effort.
First set of such reports for the year 2013-2014 were released in May 2015 while the work for the reports for the year 2014-15 is currently on-going and the reports are expected to be released by January 2016.
These reports are separate from the Public Opinion Poll which PILDAT undertakes every year on public perception about democracy and governance. Public Opinion Polls are purely based on public opinions solicited from a representative sample of over 3000 respondents scientifically selected from all over the country depicting the diversity of age, education, gender, urban/rural, income etc. in the country’s population using the state of the art international standards and practices.
The tone and terror of the story in Dunya newspaper on October 26, 2015 terming wrongly that PILDAT does not hold by the independence and integrity of its public opinion poll are a continuation of the baseless story and now its unethical and unprofessional use by the newspaper and the associated news channel. After the PILDAT President’s very clear denial of the baseless story of September 16 on the Dunya TV programme aired on October 24, in which PILDAT demanded an apology from the reporter for writing a cooked-up and baseless story alleging PILDAT colluded with any Govt to carry out governance assessment, it is absolutely unprofessional and unethical for Dunya Newspaper to run the October 26 story, once again misconstruing the facts.
This is a sheer fabrication to connect the public opinion poll report on the public perceptions on the quality of democracy that was released by PILDAT on October 19, 2015 with PILDAT meetings with the officials of Punjab Government or for that matter with any Provincial or Federal Government.
PILDAT is a non-partisan think tank and fiercely guards its independence. There is no question of PILDAT working with any government on a report commissioned by any government.
PILDAT remains committed to the values of independence, non-partisanship, integrity and high quality of work. PILDAT has taken independent positions irrespective of the positions taken by various political parties. For example PILDAT report on the state of internal democracy in political parties released in December 2014 rated the PML-N as the party with the poorest quality of internal democracy and PTI with the strongest internal democracy. The PILDAT reports on the quality of provincial legislatures during 2013-2014 declared Sindh Provincial Assembly as the most active and the Punjab Assembly as the least active. In terms of governance, Punjab and its Chief Minister have scored better than the other provinces. However, PILDAT has greatly appreciated the strong attendance record of former PM Yusuf Raza Gilani in the Parliament and has strongly criticized PM Nawaz Sharif and Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif for their rare attendance of legislatures sittings through our work.
PILDAT works in a variety of areas including quality of governance, quality of democracy, performance of State institutions, including National and Provincial Legislatures, Internal Democracy of Political Parties, Youth, Civil-Military Relations, Electoral Reforms, and others. Independence and objectivity are the guiding principles and hallmark of each of our initiatives in our contribution to strengthening of democracy and democratic institutions. PILDAT has and will always continue to uphold these values.