Sunday, January 22, 2006

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The state of Afghan public opinion

The Program on International Policy Attitudes commissioned a survey in Afghanistan on how they feel about things. The results are pretty overwhelming:

A new poll of the Afghan public finds an overwhelming majority opposes al-Qaeda and the Taliban, endorses the overthrow of the Taliban and approves of the US military presence in Afghanistan.

Eighty-one percent of Afghans said they think that al-Qaeda is having a negative influence in the world with just 6% saying that it is having a positive influence. An even higher percentage—90%—said they have an unfavorable view of Osama bin Laden, with 75% saying they have a very unfavorable view. Just 5% said they have a favorable view (2% very favorable). These levels were slightly lower in the country’s war zone, the eastern and south-central part of the country: three in five (60%) in those areas had a very unfavorable view of bin Laden.

The poll was developed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and fielded by ACSOR/D3 Systems, Inc. from November 27 to December 4, 2005, with a sample of 2,089 Afghan adults.

The fundamentalist Taliban that governed Afghanistan from 1996 until it was overthrown with the help of US forces in October 2001 received equally poor ratings. Eighty-eight percent said they have an unfavorable view of the Taliban (62% very unfavorable). Only 8% said they have a favorable view. In the war zone, a lesser 47% described their view of the Taliban as “very unfavorable,” but 81% were unfavorable nonetheless.

Perhaps most telling, 82% said that overthrowing the Taliban government was a good thing for Afghanistan, with just 11% saying it was a bad thing. In the war zone, 71% endorsed the Taliban’s overthrow while 16% saw it as a bad thing; in the north, 18% saw it as a bad thing.

These views were held by large majorities of all ethnic groups, including the large Pashtun and Tajik groups and the smaller Uzbek and Hazara groups. The Pashtuns were less emphatic in their rejection of the Taliban, with 51% expressing a very unfavorable view of the Taliban as compared to 66-79% for the other groups.

Equally large percentages endorse the US military presence in Afghanistan. Eighty-three percent said they have a favorable view of “the US military forces in our country” (39% very favorable). Just 17% have an unfavorable view.

International agencies also get a warm endorsement. An overwhelming 93% gave the United Nations favorable ratings (57% very favorable). International agencies providing aid for reconstruction were rated as effective by 79%, with 38% saying they are very effective.

Steven Kull, director of PIPA and principal investigator of the study comments, “It is remarkable that the country that was for years subjected to the totalitarian fundamentalism of the Taliban and hosted the al Qaeda as it planned 9-11, is now overwhelmingly rejecting them and welcoming the presence of the US and international agencies. Clearly this is a positive portent for the struggle against extreme fundamentalism.”

Click here for the topline results a a brief note on methodology.

posted by Dan on 01.22.06 at 11:28 PM


Naturally, one wonders whether respondents expressed their true feelings or were they saying what they thought the interviewers wanted to hear. Survey results would be easier to interpret if we could compare them with the results of a previous survey (preferably with the same question wording etc).
Still, given such large numbers I guess a huge majority of Afghans really do not want to live under Taliban. Then the question is, is that enough to stop movements like Taliban?

posted by: Kerim Can on 01.22.06 at 11:28 PM [permalink]

Here are the detailed results:


posted by: Pablo H. on 01.22.06 at 11:28 PM [permalink]

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