A report submitted before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) suggests that over Rs 385.8 billion in recoverable public funds is stuck in litigation. This is a massive amount to begin with, and the Auditor General Rana Assad Amin believes that the sum is only 10 percent of actual public funds mired in litigation, which means that the total amount would exceed Rs 4 trillion. This money belongs to the tax paying, hard-working public, yet, is lost somewhere and no one has the answer to where and why. But perhaps the more alarming fact is that this amount is only an estimate since the auditors can only examine 10 percent of the total record of any ministry, and an audit of the entire record of ministries has never been conducted, or this recoverable sum would increase manifold.

Due to 502 pending court cases across the country, PAC is unable to settle audit paras related to cases from the period between 2002 and 2016.

The reason for this institutional failure has been identified as trivial things like the courts issuing notices to departments without attaching copies of the petition, and hence creating confusion on the nature of the case. Also a general lack of understanding of the legal procedure and poor coordination between government lawyers and civil servants has been cited as reasons contributing towards the inordinate delay.

The fact of the matter is that the workings of government institutions have failed on multiple facets, and while it’s easier to blame this on institutional failure; one cannot ignore the very real possibility of these funds being misappropriated by individuals in these ministries and departments. According to the report, these ministries have spent billions of rupees on various projects, none of which has been audited properly. Accountability and transparency are essential if Pakistan is to break away from the malice of corruption and it starts with institutions that vow to uphold the better of the nation.