A lot of kids are opting for O & A Levels which is British education system in Pakistan but a vast majority of children still appear in traditional matric and intermediate exams. So it is important that we keep that local examination system reliable and up to a certain bar.
Years ago when my elder brother passed his matric exam, he scored ~80% marks and stood in one of top positions in whole board and was awarded a medal. A few years later when my sister passed the same exam, she also got ~80% marks but she was not in any of medal holders but still got some kind of scholarship and got admission easily in Kinnaird College which usually had highest merit. Then when my turn came to pass the same exam, I also got ~80% marks but I was no where close to top positions and didn’t get to Govt. College Lahore on open merit which usually had highest merit list. But a general perception was that I have scored as well as my older siblings which was certainly wrong. This clearly tells me that absolute scores are not a true representation of how well you have scored. In past ten years, I occasionally get to know about some kid in family scoring 90% marks and everyone appraising him by saying that no one else in family got that much marks before. And then they don’t get admission in any of good institutes as everyone else has scored even better.
I have heard in past 10 years or so, a lot of changes have been made to syllabus as well as changing the question types from lengthy answers to multiple choice which results in higher absolute scores.
So my whole point is that although absolute marks represents some level of guarantee that how well a child has scored, it is not really a true representation. Like almost all international standard exams, a percentile needs to be reported so one can figure out how well he/she has performed relative to everyone else. And performance relative to everyone is what matters most when it comes to applying for undergrad programs or even for a general idea about performance. It is possible that a child having scored 95% absolute marks has not done very well if he falls into 50th percentile which means half of the students who appeared in that exam scored more that him. Ideally both metrics (absolute score & percentile) should be reported but if for some reason only one is allowed then I would even argue that percentiles is more important than absolute scores.