Image Source: Hamid Khan
REGION: South Asia

The World Justice Project recently released reports on The Rule of Law in Afghanistan and The Rule of Law in Pakistan, which aim to describe fundamental features of the rule of law from a national perspective, as well as make comparisons to other South Asian countries. The reports are based on data collected in 2017 and include data dating back to 2013 to highlight changes over time. The data were gathered through face-to-face interviews and are presented in each report in several thematic sections. Interpretations of the data are summarized below, comparing key findings from each country. The full data are not presented in this summary but are available in the reports. The interpretations of the statistical findings presented below are authored by the Rule of Law Collaborative and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Justice Project.

Perceptions of Government Accountability – Participants were asked what the most likely outcome would be if a high-ranking government official were caught embezzling public funds. The most common response in both countries was that an investigation would be opened but never concluded. Slightly more respondents in Pakistan than in Afghanistan believed authorities would ignore the accusation, and the fewest respondents in both Pakistan and Afghanistan believed the officer would be prosecuted and punished. This perception varied more by location within Afghanistan than it did within Pakistan.

Corruption Across Institutions – Respondents in Afghanistan and Pakistan differed in their perceptions of corruption, with Pakistani respondents perceiving more corruption overall. In Afghanistan, judges and magistrates were the actors most widely viewed as being corrupt, followed by national government officers, members of parliament, local government officers, and the police. The police, however, were the most widely viewed as corrupt in Pakistan, followed by national government officers, local government officers, Members of Parliament, and judges and magistrates. Since 2013, perceptions of corruption have decreased across all institutions in Pakistan. In Afghanistan, however, perceptions of corruption have remained generally stable for Members of Parliament and local government officers, and have increased for judges and magistrates, national government officers, and the police.

Bribery Victimization – The number of respondents who reported having had to pay a bribe varied between the two countries, as well as between the services for which the bribes were paid. Pakistani respondents reported having had to pay a bribe to the police at a rate nearly twice that reported by Afghan respondents. Afghan respondents, however, reported higher rates of bribery to request government permits and to receive medical attention at public hospitals, roughly twice the rates reported in Pakistan.

Fundamental Freedoms – In both countries, perceptions of all fundamental freedoms have decreased since 2013, aside from Pakistani views of religious freedom, which have increased. Respondents in Afghanistan and Pakistan had similar views on political and media freedoms. The majority of respondents in both countries agreed with various statements such as “people can express opinions against the government,” and “people can organize around an issue or petition.” Most also agreed that “media can express opinions against the government,” and “media can expose cases of corruption.” Perceptions of religious freedom differed the most between the two countries, with Pakistani respondents more likely to agree that “religious minorities can observe their holy days.”

Crime Victimization – Crime victimization appeared to be lower overall in Pakistan than in Afghanistan. Specifically, Pakistan had lower rates of burglary and murder, though it did have a slightly higher rate of armed robbery. While rates of murder and armed robbery have decreased since 2013 in Afghanistan, burglary rates have increased. Likewise, in Pakistan, rates of murder and burglary have decreased, and rates of armed robbery have increased.

Criminal Justice – Afghanistan and Pakistan differed when ranking issues faced by investigative services. In Pakistan, incompetent investigators were ranked as the most serious problem, followed by lack of prosecutorial independence, corrupt investigators, inadequate resources, inadequate witness protection, deficient mechanisms to obtain evidence, corrupt prosecutors, and lack of proactive investigation methods. In Afghanistan, corrupt investigators were ranked as the most serious problem, followed by corrupt prosecutors, inadequate resources, lack of prosecutorial independence, inadequate witness protection, incompetent investigators, deficient mechanisms to obtain evidence, and lack of proactive investigation methods. Perceptions of police performance were less positive in Pakistan than in Afghanistan. Far fewer Pakistani than Afghan respondents agreed that the police act according to law always or often, that police always or often are punished for violating the law, and that police always or often respect basic rights of suspects. Perceptions of police corruption are also far higher in Pakistan than in Afghanistan, though perceptions of police corruption have decreased since 2013 in Pakistan and slightly increased in Afghanistan.

Rankings of problems faced by criminal courts also differed between the two countries. Pakistani respondents identified inadequate resources as the most serious problem, followed by poor judicial decisions, inadequate alternative dispute resolution, inadequate criminal defense, delayed cases, excessive pre-trial detention, bias against marginalized people, corruption, and lack of judicial independence. Afghan respondents identified corruption as the most serious problem, followed by delayed cases, excessive pre-trial detention, lack of judicial independence, poor judicial decisions, inadequate criminal defense, inadequate resources, bias against marginalized people, and inadequate alternative dispute resolution. Slightly fewer than half of respondents from both countries reported that the courts always or often guarantee everyone a fair trial. Afghan respondents viewed corruption as more common among judges and magistrates than did Pakistani respondents. Since 2013, more Afghan respondents, but fewer Pakistani respondents, reported that most or all judges and magistrates are involved in corrupt practices.

Access to Civil Justice – The incidence of legal problems in the last two years was significantly lower in Afghanistan than in Pakistan. In Afghanistan, the three most common problems related to land, housing, and family issues, whereas in Pakistan, the three most common problems related to community and natural resources, consumer services, and public services. Of those who faced a legal problem, 42% of Afghan respondents and 14% of Pakistani respondents turned to an authority or third party to help resolve the problem. Additionally, the percent of issues that had not been resolved at time of data collection was far higher in Pakistan than in Afghanistan. Rates of satisfaction—whether the issue had been resolved or not—were higher in Afghanistan than in Pakistan.

Legal Awareness – Afghan respondents had slightly higher legal awareness than those in Pakistan. Afghan respondent were asked questions regarding due process, women’s rights, and land rights, whereas the questions in Pakistan focused on due process, women’s rights, and children’s rights. Pakistani respondents appeared to know the most about children’s rights, followed by women’s rights, then due process, whereas respondents in Afghanistan knew the most about women’s rights, followed by due process, then land rights. Scores in each area, however, varied across each specific question. For example, in Pakistan, when assessing knowledge of due process, only 23% of respondents correctly responded to the true/false statement “a suspected criminal can be detained for as long as needed,” whereas 87% correctly responded to “a suspect must be informed of the nature of the accusation immediately upon arrest.”

Women in Society – In both countries, men are more likely than women to have a national ID and to be literate, though gender disparities were significantly greater in Afghanistan than Pakistan. Questions on diverse issues were utilized to gain insight on views of women’s rights and role in society. Responses to these questions differed between the two countries. In Afghanistan, fewer men than women agreed that “a married daughter is not entitled to her father’s estate because she is under the care of her husband,” whereas in Pakistan, more men than women agreed with the statement. Moreover, far fewer respondents in Afghanistan than in Pakistan agreed that “a woman should be able to divorce without the approval of her husband,” though more women than men agreed with this statement in both countries. Both countries had similar numbers of respondents reporting that a married man has the right to hit his wife, though women were slightly less likely to hold this belief than men. Additionally, more Afghan than Pakistani respondents agreed that women should not be allowed to work outside the home.

Trust – Respondents’ trust in the courts has decreased in Afghanistan since 2013, where the courts are the least trusted institution in the country. Courts are far more trusted in Pakistan, where the degree of trust has remained generally stable since 2013. The police are the least trusted institution in Pakistan, although trust in police has increased since 2013. Moreover, national and local government officers are less trusted in Pakistan than Afghanistan. Finally, respondents in both Afghanistan and Pakistan have the most trust for people living in their countries.

Internally Displaced People & Refugees – This information is limited to Pakistan only. The majority of respondents agreed that the government is doing enough to help internally displaced persons (IDPs), although this differed geographically within Pakistan, with the fewest respondents agreeing in Quetta and the most agreeing in Faisalabad. Half of respondents agreed that IDPs are welcome in their community, though again, responses differed geographically, with the most acceptance in Faisalabad and the least acceptance in Quetta. Similarly, half of respondents agreed that refugees are welcome. Acceptance of refugees was highest in Faisalabad and lowest in Quetta. Spreading violence and extremism was the greatest perceived problem associated with both IDPs and refugees, followed by competition for jobs, then ethnic tension between groups. Overall, these issues were more commonly reported as a perceived issue for refugees than for IDPs.

NOTE: This summary is produced by the Rule of Law Collaborative, not by the original author(s).

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