Survey: Afghan Support of Taliban on the Decline

Posted November 15th, 2011 at 9:20 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A new public opinion poll finds that Afghan support for the Taliban is at an all-time low.

The survey released Tuesday by the U.S.-based nonprofit Asia Foundation says 29 percent of those polled sympathize with the motivations of the insurgent group, down nearly half from two years ago.

And while 46 percent of Afghan citizens think their country is headed in the right direction, over a third (35 percent) of Afghans disagree with that assessment. The percentage reflects the highest level of dissatisfaction since the organization began polling in 2004.

Survey respondents pointed to insecurity as their greatest concern. Unemployment and corruption were also named as two of Afghanistan's leading problems.

Reasons for optimism include reconstruction efforts, improvements in education and the perception of better security. Respondents also said progress was being made in meeting daily needs such as access to drinking water, education and health care.

The survey also showed strong support for a political solution to the conflict, with 82 percent of Afghans supporting the government's reconciliation efforts with armed insurgent groups such as the Taliban.

The poll, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development , interviewed more than 6,000 Afghans during July 2011 in all of the country's 34 provinces, except for several areas deemed too dangerous for researchers.

Nearly half of those who said the country is headed in the wrong direction cited ongoing violence as the primary reason for their feelings.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they do not feel safe in their own neighborhoods, while 22 percent said they or someone in their family were victims of violence or crime in the past year.

The survey also found that the biggest problems facing women in Afghanistan are a lack of education and/or illiteracy (25%), lack of rights (15%), domestic violence (9%), forced marriage/dowry (8%), general healthcare (8%), and poverty (8%).

The release of the survey results comes during a recent increase in attacks by the Taliban. U.S. combat troops are set to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. International forces have already begun transferring security responsibility to their Afghan counterparts.

On Tuesday, a bomb exploded in the Ghormach district of Faryab province killing an Afghan police officer. The interior ministry said 17 civilians were wounded in the attack.