Pakistan has ranked 124 out of 180 countries – dropping four spots over last year – in the newly released Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) by Transparency International. The 2020 edition of the CPI ranked 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, drawing on 13 expert assessments and surveys of business executives. Denmark and New Zealand topped the index this year, with 88 points each. Syria, Somalia and South Sudan are at the bottom of the chart with 14, 12 and 12 points, respectively. Last year, Pakistan had ranked 120. On a scale of 0-100, with zero being ‘Highly Corrupt’ and 100 being ‘Very Clean’, the country’s corruption score stands at 31 – a point lower than last year’s 32 – indicating that the perception of corruption in the public sector has worsened slightly. A reason behind the drop in Pakistan’s score on CPI list was its points in the ‘Rule of Law Index’ and ‘Varieties of Democracy’ categories were lower than the last year’s. The questions asked by World Justice Programme (WJP) regarding ‘Rule of Law Index’ and ‘Varieties of Democracy’ are about the corruption of government officials viz legislatures, executives, judiciary, police and military, explained Sohail Muzaffar, the chairman of Pakistan’s chapter of Transparency International. The government has to improve its performance in these four sectors, he emphasised. Meanwhile, corruption perceptions in other countries in the region including India (40 points), Iran (25 points) and Bangladesh (26 points) improved, even if by small margins. Afghanistan’s score (19) has also improved by three points and so did Turkey (40), according to CPI’s statistics. China, with a score of 42, ranks 78 on the list. In 2020, the CPI focused on the impact of corruption on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic and found that persistent corruption not only undermines healthcare systems but also contributes to democratic backsliding. Countries that performed well on the index generally invest more in healthcare and, therefore, are in a better position to provide coverage to all their citizens. They are also less likely to violate democratic norms and institutions or the rule of law, the report said. Commenting on the findings, chair of Transparency International, Delia Ferreira Rubio, said: “The past year has tested governments like no other in memory, and those with higher levels of corruption have been less able to meet the challenge. But even those at the top of the CPI must urgently address their role in perpetuating corruption at home and abroad.” Special Assistant to Prime Minister of Pakistan on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill defended the government after Pakistan’s ranking was revealed on the global corruption list. He said TI has again exposed Pakistan’s leaders and their corruption. The prime minister’s aide said if one were to take the data sources out, he will find outdated data has been used to calculate Pakistan’s rating. He gave an example of the World Bank data cited in by TI which has been published in 2017. He said this means the data for a 2017 publication must have been collected before 2017. He showed another data source from 2018. He said this corruption perception report, thus, is from the last tenure of the Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz government.