Review of and Recommendations for Norwegian Support to Good Governance in Pakistan

About the publication

  • Published: May 2011
  • Series: Norad reports: discussion
  • Type: Norad reports
  • Carried out by: Petter Bauck (Norad, team leader), Arne Strand (CMI) and Shirin Gul (independent consultant)
  • Commissioned by: Norad
  • Country: Pakistan
  • Theme: Governance and democracy
  • Pages: 84
  • Serial number: 12/2011
  • ISBN: 978-82-7548-571-5
  • ISSN: --
NB! The publication is ONLY available online and can not be ordered on paper.

The report introduces a theoretical framework for analysis, and then discusses how Pakistan and Norway define governance and good governance before moving on to a political economy analysis of Pakistan, complemented by an overview of governance history and structures.


A particular challenge the report identify is the weak social contract that exists between the state and the population of Pakistan. Rather than the state being a foundation for division of power between the state and the citizens many regard it as a playground for the different power elites, i.e. the political elite closely associated with the feudal landowning class, the military and the bureaucracy, as a means to secure their personal wealth and control.
Pakistan is facing a grave situation on a number of fronts. In addition to an increasingly difficult economic situation there are large geographical differences, demands for greater independence in some areas, and a recurring struggle for power between the three centres of power, all draining the country’s resources. Population growth is estimated to have been 24 % over the past ten years. At the same time, 51 % of the population is living under the poverty line. Almost 60 % of the population is below the age of 30, and there are rising rates of unemployment and underemployment. Moreover, shortages in energy have become acute, where the public and industry both lack electricity and gas supplies. Additional problems are brought about by a series of natural disasters.

Government of Pakistan holds the main responsibility for securing a more positive developmental outcome for the country’s citizens. The 18th Constitutional Amendment that was introduced in 2010 devolves authority from the federal to the provincial governments. With more responsibility shifted to the provinces, more attention has to be given to the ability to govern at the provincial level. Little is known about how the gains for local democracy should be followed up.


The security situation has worsened. Sectarian violence is on the rise and Karachi is on the verge of a civil war. Regional tensions remain high. The conflict with India continues to dominate the security discourse while the engagement towards Afghanistan is of international concern. The blasphemy case against a Christian woman is just one of many examples that illustrate the vulnerability of minorities, and how the present religious and political discourses promote violence. Women in Pakistan are generally discriminated against when it comes to rights to development and their ability to affect their own rights.


The media sector has gained increasing influence. There are diverging views as to what extent the media sector today represents a corrective to the power structures or function as cover ups for established policies. Civil society is an important agent for change, both in protecting and advocating for basic human rights and, not least, the rights of women and minorities, and in furthering pro-poor development. A distinction is noted between single organisations and social movements, but a common question is their ability to generate networks and mobilise around issues of common concern in ways that motivate for social movements for change. An important voice is women and women organisations, including female parliamentarians and lawyers. The youth are mentioned by many as potential agents for change, though developing job opportunities for youth will remain a key challenge. The religious civil society has a large influence in Pakistan on both domestic affairs - including the rights of women - and international affairs. Continued dialogue is required in order to learn and to challenge the positions and the ways in which positions are articulated and acted upon.


The Norwegian engagement in Pakistan has long historical roots and the governance portfolio in Pakistan includes a wide range of sectors, activities and partners.

According to the report there are three important implications for how the Norwegian Embassy should plan and follow up their governance support to Pakistan to help strengthen the country’s potential to develop and secure good governance structures and practices.  The starting point is that good governance should be regarded as a cross–cutting concern in both political relations and development support.


1) Given the rapid changes that are now taking place, the Embassy needs to be continuously updated from a range of sources, including the many diverging views and positions that exist within the state, the military and the political parties. Given the recent constitutional change, establishing and maintaining contacts with the provincial governments will be increasingly important.


2) Based on a developed governance policy towards Pakistan and preferences provided in the Norwegian policy framework, the Embassy needs to play an active role in donor coordination mechanisms as a venue for helping to set the agenda and secure a dialogue with, in particular, the Federal government and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) provincial government.


3) In light of developments in Pakistan and in the KPK, the Embassy needs to constantly review its governance support in order to ensure that it is a coherent programme that can contribute towards improved governance in Pakistan. In the reviews, there must be an understanding that the network of governance partners can constitute a more active entity in promoting positive governance changes than each single organisation might achieve on its own. Partners can also provide the Embassy with an arena for contact, dialogue and sounding boards for further developments.


This review is commissioned by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad and conducted by Petter Bauck (Norad, team leader), Arne Strand (CMI, senior researcher) and Shirin Gul (independent consultant).

Published 24.05.2011
Last updated 16.02.2015