Pakistan was on Thursday ranked 120 out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2019, according to a report released by the Transparency International (TI).The CPI uses a scale of 0 to 100 to rank nations, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. Pakistan’s score – 32/100 – is one below its score last year and well below the CPI average of 43 for the year 2019. However, the international non-governmental organization based in Berlin said that more than two-thirds of the countries on its list scored below 50 on the index this year. The TI releases the index every year, ranking 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people. Pakistan was ranked at the 117th place for the years 2017 and 2018. The country had scored 33/100 on the CPI in 2018 and 32/100 in 2017. Although Pakistan’s score on the index has not changed much compared to the past year, changes in the scores of other countries on the list can be one reason why Pakistan slipped in the ranking.Pakistan was ranked 120 on the CPI this year, joint with African nation Niger, but above regional partners like Afghanistan (173), Iran (146) and Bangladesh (146). Neighbour and arch-rival India was ranked at the 80th place, scoring 41/100 on the CPI, according to the TI. The top countries on the index were New Zealand and Denmark, with scores of 87 each, followed by Finland (86), Singapore (85), Sweden (85) and Switzerland (85). The bottom countries were Somalia, South Sudan and Syria, with scores of 9, 12 and 13, respectively.In the index, Pakistan was placed in the Asia-Pacific region, which had an average CPI score of 45 after many consecutive years of an average score of 44, illustrating general stagnation across the region. The region is home to both top-performing and bottom-listed countries on the CPI. Many developed countries including Canada, France, United Kingdom and Denmark have scored less than last year, though Denmark attained the first rank on CPI 2019. “While often seen as an engine of the global economy, in terms of political integrity and governance, the region performs only marginally better than the global average,” the non-profit said, adding that the region hasn’t recorded much progress in anti-corruption efforts.More than two-thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of only 43. Since 2012, only 22 countries have significantly improved their scores including Estonia, Greece and Guyana. Twenty-one have significantly declined including Australia, Canada and Nicaragua.Transparency International research shows several of the most advanced economies cannot afford to be complacent if they are to keep up their anti-corruption momentum. Four G7 countries score lower than last year: Canada (-4), France (-3), the UK (-3) and the US (-2). Germany and Japan have seen no improvement, while Italy gained one point.According to Transparency International, it is imperative to prevent corruption in order to foster the integrity of political systems around the world. This will restore trust, and lead to a decrease in the perceived levels of corruption prevalent in several countries, the group said. In line with the statement, the group also identified several key areas that governments around the globe could concentrate on reforming and thus decreasing corruption in their societies.Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan, when asked to comment on the TI report, said that no big scandal of corruption has come forward against the PTI-led government during the time it has been in power. “Fifteen months are not enough to wipe out corruption from the country. The government will defeat corruption-laden system and the people who take advantage of this corruption,” she told reporters at a press conference. “The biggest challenge of Pakistan is corruption. Our fight is with the corrupt mafia that releases a new rumour regarding the government every day,” she added.PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said that her party is already of the opinion that corruption in Pakistan has actually increased under the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the TI report is an evidence of it. “The TI report is a charge-sheet against the government. The international body has exposed the accountability-driven rulers. The prime minister accuses the opposition of fostering corruption, but Pakistan has slipped to 120 in the CPI under his watch,” she said. “This proves that corruption has neither decreased nor vanished. The story behind the Malam Jabba Ski Resort, the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit, and other scandals is yet to come out,” she added. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the report on governance and transparency issues is a slap on the face of the PTI government in Pakistan. “The country is not run on false claims but good governance. The government has only created unjust hue and cry over the past year with nothing to show for it,” she said.