The Concept of Good Governance in Modern World and Governance by Caliphs of Islam – Part I

The Concept of Good Governance in Modern World and Governance by Caliphs of Islam – Part I


The west through good governance has provided basic facilities to its peoples and thus improved the life of its peoples. On the contrary Muslim world badly failed to provide basic facilities of life to its peoples. The bad-governance has created problem for the masses in the Muslim world. Islam being the complete Code of Life provides a comprehensive governance system and it has been proven particularly that the golden rules of Islam if implemented, can elevate the status of its people in this life and the hereafter. This is because Islam does not only want to improve a person’s hereafter but also give an opportunity to improve and fully participate in this life within the framework and guidance of Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhamad (peace be upon him). The rightly guided caliphs, particularly Hazrat Umar (RA) and Hazrat Ali (RA) had proved by their conduct of governance that Islam is not only a religion of hereafter but also wants Muslims to work for the welfare of the masses. Today, most of the Muslim countries, particularly, Pakistan is facing governance problems because its leadership does not adopt the way of the rightly guided caliphs.


Durable and broad-based economic growth and social development are undoubtedly linked to good governance. Through the ages, numerous commissions and committees have been constituted to reform governance but could not make any break-through in this regard. The main reason behind this is that governments do not want to make substantial changes in the governance and want to maintain status quo in the country for their vested interest. Reforms in the governance cannot be made unless a real revolution is brought in the government and politics of Pakistan. It is very disheartening to note that the former government of PPP and current government of PML (N) are not holding local body’s election which is the back bone of service delivery at the door steps, ultimately leading towards good governance in the country.[1]But now as a result of the Supreme Court pressure, provincial governments are conducting Local Government Elections in phases.

The terms ‘governance’ and ‘good governance’ have become cliché in the modern political system where every second person is using this terminology. The absence of good governance is regarded as one of the root causes of all the evil in society as it is is linked to the development of human beings and society. The term governance can be used in multi-forms such as; Corporate Governance, Financial Governance, International Governance, National Governance and Local Governance. But in this article I will discuss governance in the form of local governance and national governance. Government is one of the important actors in delivering good governance and through democracy service delivery is ensured at the grass root level. There are other factors also involved to ensure good governance vis; in rural area landlord, associations of peasants farmers and cooperatives and Civil Societies commonly known as Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs), research institutions, Think Tanks, religious leaders, the finance institutions and also military leaders. There are some elements involved to good governance which includes; Participation, Rule of Law, consensus oriented, accountability, transparency, responsiveness, efficient and equitable. These elements will be elaborated briefly later on.[2]

The term ‘good governance’ was primarily used with the end of Cold War because donor agencies carried out economic and political reforms in the host/recipient countries and international donor agencies like International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) expect that certain conditions will be complied with the countries where reforms were introduced. Barber Conable who was President of WB in 1991 emphasized form objectives that have to be achieved to increase economic growth. These objectives are; increased government investment in education, health care and nutrition; greater competition in domestic markets; greater integration of the domestic economy with the global economy: and the creation of a stable macro-economic environment.[3]

Origin of the word ‘Governance’

The word ‘governance’, like government, derives from the Greek verb Kubernao which means ‘to steer’, the metaphorical sense first being attested in Plato. In above described sense, however, the term governance was reminted as recently as the 1990s by economists and political scientists and disseminated and by institutions such as United Nations, International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Its use in English can be traced back to Charles Plummer’s ‘The Governance of England, published in 1885 as a translation from the original 13th century Latin of John Fortescue’s ‘The Difference between an Absolute and a Limited Monarchy. This usage of governance to refer to the arrangements of governing became orthodox including in Sidney Low’s Seminal Text of the same title in 1904 and among later British Constitutional historians.


Almost all the definitions of governance carry more or less the  same meaning but the ultimate objective of all these definitions is to ensure efficient delivery of services by the government in a well-organized manner, by observing transparency. It will be possible in a country where Rule of Law is ensured by its legal systems.

Governance refers to all processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market or network, whether over a family, tribe, formal or informal organization or territory and whether through laws, norms, power or language. It relates to the process of interaction and decision-making among the actors involved in a collective problem that lead to the creation, reinforcement, or reproduction of social norms and institution. The process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented or not implemented is called Governance.

Governance is a method through which power is exercised in the management of a country’s political, economic, and social resources for development.[4]

Governance is the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s social and economic resources for development.[5]

Governance is the process whereby societies or organization make important decisions, determine whom they involve and how they render account.[6]

Governance is the exercise of economic, political, and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It comprises of the mechanisms, processes, and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences.[7]

Governance in Pakistan cannot be reformed unless its political system in its various dimensions is reformed also.[8]

Governance refers to government, rule, or administration, both in politics and business, and it is almost always used in an evaluative, even a judgmental context, especially by the United Nations and its agencies. Good Governance refers to corporate or governmental administration that is not corrupt, technically competent, legally correct, efficient in its implementation and oriented towards the interests of its citizens, customers or employees. In this sense, the term can also be applied to characterize the government of Europe, in these days.[9]

Good Governance

Good governance’ refers to corporate or governmental ‘administration’ that is not corrupt, technically competent, legally correct, efficient in its implementation and oriented towards the interests of its citizens, customers or employees. In this sense, the term can also be applied to characterize the government of Europe.[10]

The good governance is a dynamic concept through which public/citizens are provided basic facilities at their door step. Public concerns are given importance by the government. The ultimate object of good governance is delivery to the masses at every cost, and it is one of the prime objectives of the government to take care of its citizens. Good Governance has eight major characteristics. It includes; participation, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsiveness, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. To ensure good governance, government is obligated to take all stakeholders into confidence for policy-setting and decision-making. Following are some elements of good governance in detail:[11

Participation: by both men and women is an important element of good governance. It could either be direct or through representation. One of the glaring examples of participation is Local Government through which people are directly involve in local decisions-making process. Dr. Akhtar Hussain Sandhu while highlighting the importance of local governance has wrote:

Local Government system provides political representation to the people dwelling in a village, town and city. Decentralizing power to the grassroots level arranges a quick service delivery at the doorstep of the people. More importantly, this system empowers local people to work on need-based projects without experiencing hardships and painful processing in the provincial or federal offices. Pakistan having an illiterate peasantry dwelling in rural areas faces systemic problems pertaining to democratic institutions and most of the time it has to experience constitutional amendments and abrupt change in government and systems.[12]

Constitution of Pakistan has also guaranteed representation of people through its Preamble and Objectives Resolution which is now a substantive part of it, by virtue of Article 2A of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973. The relevant portion is hereby reproduced. The State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people.[13] The Constitution further provides guidelines for the Local government through its Articles 32 and 140A. Article 32 of Principles of policy  made it obligatory for the State to encourage local government institutions so that representation of people at the local level could be ensured. Article says:

Promotion of local Government institutions :The State shall encourage local Government institutions composed of elected representatives of the areas concerned and in such institutions special representation will be given to peasants, workers and women.[14]

Article 142A which has been amended by 18th Constitutional Amendment, 2010, clearly says that it would be State’s responsibility to conduct local body election to transfer political, administrative and financial powers to the grass root levels. Article 142A of Constitution reads as:

140A Local Government. — Each Province shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments.

(2) Elections to the local governments shall be held by the Election Commission of Pakistan.[15]

Rule of Law: The country where rule of law is observed in letter and spirit, it flourishes rapidly and attracts foreign and local investments. Good governance requires a fair, impartial and speedy legal system. The government which protects human rights, particularly those of minorities, are always on the right track of economic development. For the implementation of judgments of the judiciary, there needs to be an efficient, impartial and incorrupt police force in a society. The 18th Amendment has incorporated a new Article 10A which guarantees fair trial and due process of law “ in the determination of his civil rights and obligations or in any criminal charge against”

Former Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while making the inaugural speech at International Judicial Conference 2013 highlighted the importance of Rule of Law and linked it with Good Governance ultimately leading to the attraction of foreign and local investment. His words are:

Independent and impartial administration of justice contributes to strengthen constitutional norms and rule of law in the society. An efficient judiciary contributes towards strengthening the state institution and promoting good governance. This is possible only when state organs and institutions perform functions by remaining within their allotted spheres. Good governance, in turn, leads to economic development and social progress. It helps in generating trade and commercial activities and investment opportunities. If we look at the history of the developed nations, we find that the secret of their success adherence to the Constitution, rule of law and a system of government which provides good governance and strong administration.

You will agree with me that nothing is more important than a sense of justice and security to a citizen. Whether it; a question of protection of his fundamental rights, enforcement of contract, accessibility of public entitlements or property rights, the common man wants to have a feeling of complete security by having unfettered access to justice. Equally important is the matter of economic development of the country, which is intrinsically linked with the quality and extent of the justice service delivery situation in the country. No foreign investment or local industry can make strides unless citizen’s access to justice not ensured in a professional manner. Here I must say that the legitimacy of any government depends on the fair and impartial administration of laws.

We understand that ensuring the rule of law and access to justice is an uphill task that requires a holistic approach involving all the stakeholders. Pakistan since its creation in 1947 is confronting with severe issues of governance. The frequent military interventions, unstable economy, and weak political culture are the main contributors to the catastrophic state of affairs. For Pakistan, the year 2009 appeared with new paradigms for governance and public policy management. This paradigmatic shift brought the Supreme Court of Pakistan to the position where it can break the status quo and guide the nation out of the disorder. In the democratic set up of Pakistan every institution has to recognize and respect constitutional norms. The three main organs of the State, i.e. the judiciary, the executive, though all powerful in their respective domains cannot transcend their constitutional circumference through an abuse of authority. The success and efficacy of a democratic system depends on the independence of the judiciary which cannot be ensured until and unless all State institutions work within the constitutional framework. The judiciary being the custodian on the Constitution has been specifically equipped with the power of judicial review to check the arbitrary exercise of power by any person or institution. The doctrine of judicial review is as old and well established as Constitutional Law itself. One of the foremost authorities on constitutional law is A.V. Dicey who is considered a great standard bearer of the rule of law. Writing in his book ‘Introduction to the Study of Law of the Constitution’ has propounded that “Every man, whatever his rank or condition may be, is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amenable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals.”

The judiciary has the constitutional mandate to annul any act, whether it being an act of Parliament or action taken by a State functionary that transgresses the constitutional limits. Under Article 184(3) the SC is vested with the power of judicial review, and similarly the High Court under Art 199, act as a bulwark against unconstitutional and arbitrary actions of the public institutions and functionaries. Any law order or action of the public authorities which is inconsistent with or contrary to, the constitution is liable to be annulled by the Supreme Court under the power of judicial review. The underlying objective is to prevent the abuse of power by the public functionaries and to ensure fair treatment of citizens in accordance with the law and Constitution.[16]

Transparency: Transparency means that information should be provided in easy understandable forms and media; that it should be freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by governance policies and practice, as well as the outcomes resulting therefrom; and that any decisions taken and their enforcement are in compliance with established rules and regulations. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on the complaint of Khawaja Muhammad Asif, MNA of PML (N) while deciding a case against appointment on the lucrative posting/transfer during the caretaker government in the year 2013 has given detailed guidelines for the appointment of CEO posts in the country. The relevant paras Nos.25, 26 & 27 of the judgment are reproduced hereunder:[17]

During hearing of the case, it has been pointed out to petitioner Khawaja Muhammad Asif that although he being an elected Member of the Parliament had raised questions touching upon the transparency in the appointment of the heads of the autonomous, semi-autonomous bodies, corporations, regulatory authorities, etc., but in his own capacity as a public representative, he had also to ensure that all the appointments in such like bodies as well as the appointments on contract basis must be made in a transparent manner. In some of the countries, effective steps have been taken to stop such colossal loss of the national resources by day-to-day measures to improve the professional quality and political neutrality of appointments to public bodies/regulatory authorities by ensuring that selection in such bodies is based on merit, fairness and openness. It may not be out of context to note that in UK, an independent Commissioner is available to regulate, monitor, report and advice the public appointments, the performances etc. All the government departments while making such appointments are bound to follow the code of practice which has been issued by such Commissioner. Similarly, in Canada all appointments for Chief Executives, Directors and Chairpersons of public sector corporations are subject to strict merit-based system. It may be noted that elected government has to heavily rely upon public bodies to implement their policies and the object essentially cannot be achieved if honest and competent persons are not holding such public offices. While making such appointments, following parameters are to be considered:–

(1)        Integrity: Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organizations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.

(2)        Objectivity: In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choice solely on merit.

(3)        Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

(4)        Openness: Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

(5)      Honesty:  Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

(6)        Leadership: Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

  1. Be that as it may, in order to ensure the enforcement of the fundamental right enshrined in Article 9 of the Constitution and considering it to be a question of public importance, a Commission headed by and comprising two other competent and independent members having impeccable integrity, may be the Federal Ombudsman or Chairman NAB or a Member of Civil Society having exceptional ability and integrity, is required to be constituted by the Federal Government through open merit based process having fixed tenure of four years to ensure appointments in statutory bodies, autonomous bodies, semi-autonomous bodies, regulatory authorities to ensure appointment of all the government controlled corporations, autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies, etc. The Commission should be mandated to ensure that all public appointments are made solely on merits. The Commission should discharge mainly the following functions:–
  • Regulate public appointments processes within his remit;
  • Implement a Code of Practice that sets out the principles and core processes for fair and transparent merit-based selections;
  • chair the selection panels for appointing heads of public/statutory bodies and chairs and members of their boards, where necessary;
  • appoint Public Appointments Assessors to chair the selection panels for appointing heads of public/statutory bodies and chairs and members of their boards, where appropriate;
  • report publicly on a public/statutory body’s compliance with the Code of Practice, including examples of poor and good performance, and best practice;
  • investigate complaints about unfair appointment process;
  • Monitor compliance with the Code of Practice;
  • Ensure regular audit of appointments processes within his remit;
  • Issue an annual report giving detailed information about appointments processes, complaints handled, and highlights of the main issues which have arisen during the previous year. The annual report for the previous calendar year should be laid before the Parliament by 31st March;
  • Take any other measures deemed necessary for ensuring that processes for public sector appointments that fall in his remit are conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are fully guarded against.
  1. The Code of Practice should provide foundations for transparent merit-based public appointments. All public appointments must be governed by the overriding principle of selection based on merit, out of individuals who through abilities, experience and qualities have a proven record that they best match the need of the public body in question. No public appointment must take place without first being recommended by the Commission. The appointments procedures should be subjected to the principle of proportionality, that is, what is appropriate for the nature of the post and the size and weight of its responsibilities. Those, selected must be committed to the principles and values of public service and perform their duties with highest level of integrity. The information provided about the potential appointees must be made public. The Commission may from time to time conduct an inquiry into the policies and procedures followed by an appointing authority in relation to any appointment. He may also issue a statement or publish a report commenting publicly on any breach or anticipated breach of the Code. The appointment of the successful candidate must be publicized.”[18]

The government of Pakistan has formulated authority through Ordinance titled ‘Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Ordinance 2002’, which has made it obligatory to improve the governance so as to provide fairness and transparency in government affairs:[19]

Functions and powers of the Authority.-

  1. Subject to other provisions of this Ordinance, the authority may take such measures and exercise such powers as may be necessary for improving governance, management, transparency, accountability and quality of public procurement of goods, services and works in the public sector.
  • Without prejudice to the generality of the powers conferred by sub-section (1), the Authority may
  • monitor application of the laws, rules, regulations, policies and procedures in respect of, or relating to, procurement;
  • monitor the implementation of and evaluate laws, rules, regulations, policies and procedures in respect of, or relating to, inspection or quality of goods, services andrecommend to the Federal Government revisions in or formulation of new laws, rules and policies in respect of or related to public procurement;
  • make regulations and lay down codes of ethics and procedures for public procurement,  inspection or quality of goods, services and works;
  • monitor public procurement practices and make recommendations to improve governance, transparency, accountability and quality of public procurement;

Responsiveness: Good governance requires that organizations and their processes are designed to serve the best interests of stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe.

The present unsatisfactory conditions of the State whether in politics, economic, security, law and order is due to the absence of governance. The government is recognized by the team of professional competent bureaucracy it keeps. The member of bureaucracy with political affiliations cannot efficiently perform their functions and cause mismanagement of the state affairs ultimately leading to bad governance. Inefficiency and mismanagement, coupled with corruption, has been allowed by the successive governments which have now become institutionalized.  This needs massive shake-up to change the status quo to ensure the good governance; otherwise the governments will continue to fail and deliver to the masses.

In our neighborhood, Prime Minister Modi has chosen his team from refined Civil Servants and Technocrat and for this purpose he has requested Indian living all over the world to return and play their role in nation-building. He has also sent message to all his team members called “Go and Do it” policy because through real performance he wants to transform Indian politics. On the contrary, in Pakistan, in its early days after May 2013, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had appointed internationally acclaimed HR Consultant Firms for selection of Heads of CEOs of the Autonomous bodies and other high profile offices. The HR Firms completed its work and submitted its report but unfortunately selection committee was disbanded and now PML (N) government has successfully revisited the Supreme Court’s earlier verdict cited as 2013 SCMR 1205 wherein government was directed to appoint high level vacancy through a Commission. But one thing must be kept in mind that now political situation is not the same. Now Social Media and Civil Society have become more vibrant, in this scenario only good governance and public service can be useful tactic whereas manipulation of Elections will not work anymore.[20]

Accountability:Accountability is a key requirement of good governance. Not only the governmental institutions but the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their Institutional stakeholders. Who is accountable to who varies on whether decisions or actions taken are internal or external to an organization or institution. In general an organization or an institution is accountable to those affected by its decisions or actions.

Effectiveness and Efficiency:Good Governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. The concept of efficiency in the context of good governance also covers the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment. To ensure speedy delivery of services in the age of Information Technology Age, E-Governance has started completely in advanced countries and it is under implementation in Pakistan as well.

Consensus Oriented:There are several actions and as many view points in a given society. Good Governance requires mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad consensus on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how it can be achieved. It also requires a broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for sustainable human development of the historical, culture and social understanding of the historical, cultural and social contexts of a given society or community.

Equity and Inclusiveness: Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. The concept of efficiency in the context of good governance also covers the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment.



This paper on the Concept of Good Governance consists  of two parts. Part II is also available in the Commentary section of the website.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which he might be associated.



[1]Hussain, Dr. Ishrat, “Governance Reform” published in Criterion available at

[2] What is Good Governance? UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

[3] The Issue of Good Governance, Good Governance, Democratic Societies and Globalization, edited by SurendraMunshi and Banj Paul Abraham, Page No.17.

[4] Word Bank (1992)

[5] Asian Development Bank (1995)

[6] Canada Institute of Governance (2002)

[7] United Nation Development Program (1997)

[8]Syed, Anwar, “Reforming Governance, Issues and Relations of Pakistan”, at page 468 published Research Society of Pakistan, University of the Punjab.

[9] Concern for Good Governance in Comparative Perspective, by Surendra at Page51.

[10] Abram De Swaan, at page 66

[11] United Nations, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and also available at

[12]Sandhu, Dr. Akhtar Hussain, “Local Self-Government in Pakistan: A Focus on General Parvez Musharraf Era” published in Faran Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.1, No.1 (January-June 2014), Page 47.

[13] Preamble and Objectives Resolution (Article 2A), The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan,

[14] Article 32 of Constitution of Pakistan under the Chapter Principles of Policy

[15] Article 142A if Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, available at

[16]Inaugural Speech by former Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry at International Judicial Conference 2013 published by Judicial Commission of Pakistan, at Page 15-16.

[17] Khawaja Muhammad Asif v Federation of Pakistan, 2013 SCMR 1205

[18] Khawaja Muhammad Asif v Federation of Pakistan cited in 2013 SCMR 1205

[19] Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Ordinance 2002 available at

[20]Ali, Farhat, “State Governance is the main Issue” published in daily Business Recorder 26th November 2014.

Muhammad Imran

Author: Muhammad Imran

The writer holds a degree in LL. B (Punjab University) and M. Phil (Islamic Studies) and is an LL. M Candidate at University of Lahore. He has avid interest in Constitutional Law and is currently working at the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law (SAHSOL), Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).