August 02, 2014

Survey shows most Afghans positive about future

By Sadaf Shinwari - Thu Nov 15, 10:38 am

As the U.S. prepares to exit Afghanistan, insecurity is the problem that Afghans fear most. A new survey of Afghan opinion  conducted by the Asia Foundation and released Wednesday found that Afghans also are most concerned about corruption in government and the availability of jobs.

The report, “Afghanistan in 2012: A Survey of the Afghan People,” found public opinion to be the most optimistic since the annual survey began in 2004. Fifty-two percent of the respondents felt that the country was moving in the right direction, compared to 46% in 2011. Improvements in security and reconstruction were the most cited reasons for the improved outlook.

Over half of the respondents feel that their families are more prosperous today than in the Taliban era and access to schools has increased. Most respondents agreed with the government’s national reconciliation and negotiation efforts with the Taliban.

Only 30 percent of respondents in the poll expressed sympathy for the insurgents, while nearly two-thirds said they did not support them.

The survey, which included 89 questions on a wide range of issues, showed that the vast majority of Afghans see corruption as a major problem in all facets of life and at all levels of governance. Nearly 80 percent of respondents said graft was a serious problem across the country, the report said.

 “Security continues to be the biggest indicator of both optimism and pessimism for Afghans.” said Abdullah Ahmadzai, the deputy representative for Afghanistan with the Asia Foundation.

He said, “This survey helps to give us a sense of citizens’ priorities, needs, and views.”

“We’ve created a war and aid economic bubble” in which security sector work and reconstruction and development jobs are plentiful for now, said Andrew Wilder, director of Afghanistan and Pakistan Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

But once most U.S. and other foreign troops pull out as planned in 2014, many of those jobs will disappear. “We’ll see a sharp reduction in foreign aid as troops decrease, so we’ll see a drop in those sectors as well,” said Wilder. The jobs tend to be in urban areas and higher-paying than other work in Afghanistan. “If I were an Afghan, I’d be concerned about jobs moving forward,” he said.

Afghanistan has faced an 11-year insurgency by Taliban Islamists toppled from power by a US-led invasion in 2001. US-led NATO combat troops supporting the government against the militants are due to pull out by the end of 2014.

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