A new survey says corruption has soared to twice previous levels in Afghanistan in the last two years. The survey was conducted by a non-profitmaking group called Integrity Watch, which released its report on Thursday.
The survey says Afghanistan's police is among the most corrupt institutions
Integrity Watch says it is the first truly national corruption survey in Afghanistan. 6,500 Afghans were interviewed in the survey. The report said one in seven respondents said they had personally paid a bribe or had been asked to pay one in 2009 to receive public services such as healthcare and education. Nearly $1 billion in bribes were paid last year in Afghanistan, claims the report.
It suggests that the police and courts are seen as most corrupt by Afghans. And nearly half of the respondents said that graft was giving more strength to the Taliban and helping the insurgents expand their influence.
Many Afghans admit they have paid bribes to obtain public services
Poor people hardest hit
The growth in corruption is also threatening the legitimacy of the state, the report added. The survey was carried out late last year across most of Afghanistan. It found that poor people in rural areas were hardest hit by graft.
The survey said bribery is not part of Afghan culture and that 90 percent of respondents said they felt guilty when paying a bribe.
Corruption is one of the major problems plaguing Afghanistan as it tackles Taliban insurgency, which has intensified in recent years.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Pressure mounting on the president
President Hamid Karzai is under intense pressure from Western backers to tackle endemic corruption. Earlier this year he boosted the powers of an anti-corruption body to wipe out graft. But the latest alarming figures have put a question mark on the effectiveness of that body.
Last week, a senior US lawmaker blocked nearly four billion dollars in aid to the war-torn country, amid corruption concerns there.
Author: Disha Uppal
Editor: Grahame Lucas