ISLAMABAD: At a time when both ruling and opposition parties are criticising each other over allegations of corruption against the backdrop of the leaked Panama Papers and Dubai leaks, the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen), a non-governmental organisation, has released the report of a survey which has indicated that as many as 64 per cent of Pakistanis believe that certain level of corruption prevails in government departments.

During the survey, conducted in February, as many as 6,030 people randomly selected from 603 locations in the country were interviewed.

The selected people were asked whether or not they had interacted with any of the 25 government departments over the past six months. The departments included education, health, Wapda, Sui Gas, police, courts, revenue, Election Commission of Pakistan, irrigation, Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Nadra, municipality, railways, PIA and Income Tax.

As many 3,971 people — 2,305 men and 1,665 women — responded in affirmative. Of these 3,971 respondents, 1,751 were in Punjab, 999 in Sindh, 703 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 276 in Balochistan, 29 in Islamabad Capital Territory and 213 in Fata.

Only those respondents who said they had any interaction or engagement with any of the government departments were asked about their perception of corruption levels in those departments in order to ensure that the response are based on some objectivity.

Nearly two-thirds of the respondents who had engaged with government offices believed that corruption levels in as many as 25 selected government departments were either very high or somewhat high. Men (72pc) tend to be higher in percentage in their belief that corruption prevails in those government departments as compared to women (54pc). This was perhaps due to a generally greater interaction and engagement of men with government institutions.

Balochistan stood significantly ahead in public perception about the corruption levels in government departments as compared to the other provinces and regions. About 82pc of respondents in Balochistan, 74pc in Sindh, 72pc in Islamabad Capital Territory, 68pc in Punjab, 52pc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 8pc in Fata said they believed corruption prevailed in government departments.

There were 332 instances where the respondents directly witnessed public employees accepting bribe. Highest incidence of public officials accepting bribe was witnessed in Punjab where 206 — around 12pc of the respondents who had recently engaged with government offices — stated to have seen government officers taking bribe. It was followed by Sindh where 106 (10.6pc) respondents engaged with public offices saw such an incidence. Only 4pc respondents in Balochistan and 1pc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa witnessed such incidence in their respective provinces.

The survey also involved the Key Informant Interviews and Focus Group Discussions to develop socio-political profiles of all National Assembly constituencies detailing the way people vote as well as determinants of their electoral choices.

As many as 49pc of respondents were in Punjab, 16pc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 8pc in Balochistan, 22pc in Sindh, 1pc in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and 4pc in Fata.

Among those surveyed, 46pc were adult women and 54pc were adult men. About 59pc of the interviewees were between the ages of 18 and 35 years and 41pc were above 35 years. While the proportion of the survey respondents who had attained education up to the primary level or above was 62pc, there were 34pc survey respondents who either never went to school or had dropped out before completing primary level education. As many as 3.8pc respondents attended madressahs and 0.2pc vocational institutions.

Fafen will release detailed socio-political profiles in July. However, corruption was selected as the theme for the first public release in view of the ongoing public debate on the issue against the backdrop of the leaked Panama Papers.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2016

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