This study investigates the impact of corporate governance characteristics and political connections of directors on the profitability of banks in Pakistan. The study uses the data of 26 domestic banks over the latest and large period of 2007–2016. Our findings firstly affirm that bank profitability is negatively affected by the presence of politically connected directors on the board, reporting significantly lower return on assets, return on equity, net interest margin, and profit margin. Secondly, our findings also affirm the negative political influence on the sustainability of the banking industry, reporting significantly lower return on assets, return on equity, net interest margin, and profit margin during the government transition of banks having politically connected directors sitting on their board. Our findings further report an inverted U-shaped relationship between board size and bank profitability, suggesting that a board size beyond 8–9 members decreases the profitability. The study further finds a positive impact of board composition, board independence, and director compensation on bank profitability, while also finding a negative impact of frequent board meetings, presence of foreign directors, and audit committee independence.
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