Survey: Afghan Support of Taliban on the Decline

Posted November 15th, 2011 at 3:40 am (UTC-5)
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A new public opinion poll conducted by the U.S.-based Asia Foundation suggests that 46 percent of Afghan citizens think their country is headed in the right direction.

But the survey results, released Tuesday, indicate that over a third (35 percent) of Afghans disagree with that assessment, the highest level of dissatisfaction since the organization began polling in 2004.

The poll also found that support for the Taliban is at an all-time low. Only 29 percent said they sympathize with the motivations of the Taliban, down nearly half from two years ago.

The survey 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.

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 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.