Open Government Partnership (OGP) consists of three main principles: Transparency, Participation and Collaboration. The idea of an open government rapidly gained popularity after President Barack Obama signed his first executive order, the “Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government” for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies in March 2009. This initiative meant to bridge the gap between the civilians and the government which brought the attention of the world as many countries started to actively change their governing principles to be more open and ultimately, a total of 77 countries and 106 local jurisdictions joined the OGP. Pakistan was also one of the countries that joined the OGP in 2016. However, unable to fulfil the set requirements, it was officially withdrawn from the OGP on March 7th of 2022.
Pakistan paid $20,000 to gain the membership for the OGP under the government of the PMLN and was eager to obtain the benefits of being a part of the forum. As a member of the OGP, Pakistan had to fulfil the requirements of the National Action Plan – a plan which is supposed to advocate “the open government reforms that stretch the government beyond its current state of practice significantly improving the status quo by strengthening transparency, accountability and public participation in government.” (OGP National Action Plan Guidance Note page 1). This required them to advance at the minimum of two open government principles: transparency, accountability, participation and lastly technology and innovation. However, Pakistan was unable to submit the report a total of 4 times which exhibited a lack of effort and commitment to the organisation and hence, they were withdrawn during the tenure of PTI.
One major contributing factor to Pakistan’s withdrawal was political instability as PTI, despite advocating to the public of their transparency, had shown little interest in the OGP – leading to a lack of response in the form of no official national action plan reports being composed.
Additionally, Pakistan had adopted its colonial predecessor’s ideology, believing that policy making is confidential and should be kept away from the public which is the binary opposite of the principles that the OGP advocates for. Such tight-knit ideologies engraved in the society could not be easily changed, therefore, leading to its much-expected withdrawal from the OGP.
Although Pakistan took some initiatives with regards to open government principles such as the Right to Information Act (2017) which advocated the purpose of the government being held accountable to its people. Nevertheless, there is still a long way for Pakistan to touch the real essence of open government ideology like the other members of the OPG, such as the accomplishments of Kenya and UK to eliminate anonymous company ownership and money laundering, respectively.