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Failing Government? 

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The institutions of any country are crucial to its survival and progress and the faith that people place in these institutions is an indicator of their performance, both current and expected. When conducting surveys about the state and domestic politics, Gallup Pakistan ensures the inclusion of questions related to the overall performance of the government.
In a survey conducted in 2007, people were asked about the degree of trust that they placed in various institutions. In response, 20% of the people said that they had a lot of trust in the National Assembly, 19% believed in NGO’s, 16% had faith in the media and 12% really trusted the armed forces. Comparatively, 11% claimed that they had faith in the ulema, 10% laid their confidence in civil courts, 8% trusted the police and only 5% stated that they really trusted the political parties. When questioned about ways in which public and private institutions could regain the public’s trust and confidence, 30% stressed on the need for greater transparency while 32% said that there is a dire need for these institutions to keep fraudulent behavior in check and that this can be done through more strict punishments. 9% said that there should be new organizational designs, 14% believed that there should be open dialogue and communication between these institutions and the people and 6% stated that the institutions needed to reconnect with all stakeholders. 9%, on the other hand, said that they did not know.
In response to another query in 2007, 45% of the people said that they preferred to seek help from civil courts when facing a problem, 25% stated they turned towards religious leaders, 12% sought help from those enforcing the Shariah and 18% said that they did not know. At the same time, however, the people’s lack of confidence in the judiciary is highlighted by the fact that 51% of the people believed that the enforcement of Shariah in the country was being demanded because the civil courts had failed to uphold their responsibilities. 28% disagreed with this claim and 21% were not sure.
Given the upcoming elections, the respondents were asked in more detail about both political parties and political leaders towards the end of 2006. When asked about political leaders, 62% of the respondents described them as dishonest, 51% thought that they wielded too much power and responsibility, 49% believed that they were unethical and 31% were of the opinion that they were too sensitive when it came to public opinion. 45% of the people rated them as incompetent and 46% were of the view that they tend to respond to pressure from people more powerful than themselves. When asked about the factors that could give one political priority superiority over another, 59% mentioned the policies that political parties advocate, 35% considered the party’s plans about the distribution of finances allocated for development projects to be very important and 36% considered the help that they could get with regard to their personal problems as very significant.
More specifically, in 2006, the people were questioned about education and health facilities in the country. When asked about the problems that they had had to face at local public schools in the past one year, 36% mentioned about the lack of an adequate number of textbooks available for students, 34% indicated towards poor teaching standards, 32% said that the classrooms were overcrowded, 29% mentioned the frequent absence of teachers, 32% stated that the facilities available were very poor and 24% replied that they were required to make illegal payments to the administration. At the same time, it is important to note that 83% of the respondents claimed that they had not had any experience with a public school.
Similarly, when inquired about the problems that the people had experienced at public hospitals in the past twelve months, 47% stated that they had been treated disrespectfully by the staff, 51% mentioned that no medicines were available at these facilities, 49% said that there was a very long waiting line and 36% indicated towards the frequent absence of doctors. 41% also asserted that the hospitals were not clean and 31% said that they were required to make illegal payments. 82%, however, said that they had no experience with public hospitals.
In a survey conducted in 2005, the people were asked to name the institutions that they viewed as very corrupt. 51% mentioned the police, 25% named the judiciary, 32% indicated towards political system, 31% identified the bureaucracy and 16% pointed towards the forces. In a question specific to the judiciary, only 13% of the people felt that the judiciary was doing a very good job of providing justice, 45% believed that it was doing so to some extent and 41% said that it had failed completely.
It is pretty obvious from the data given above that most of the people do not have any confidence in the central institutions of the state such as the judiciary, the armed forces and even the general political system. The current establishment is surrounded with problems and has failed to satisfy the masses. While people have little or no faith in these institutions, most of them still seem to favor them over the religious leaders or those demanding the enforcement of the Shariah.
However, this observation should not be misunderstood. Leave alone the fundamental institutions of the state, the majority of the people strongly feel that the government has failed to provide them even the basic facilities of health and education. They have no confidence in public institutions and more and more of them seem to be turning away from them altogether.
These surveys and polls were conducted by Gallup Pakistan, an affiliate of Gallup International, on a sample of over 1100 respondents in urban areas of all four provinces of Pakistan. This sample was statistically selected across all ages, income groups and educational levels. The error for a sample of this kind is estimated to be +/- 5% at a 95% confidence level.

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