Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Hope rises in Afghanistan
More than 70 percent of Afghans believe their country is headed in the right direction, a poll commissioned by the BBC, ABC and Germany’s ARD shows, up from 40 percent a year ago.
Even more surprising, 90 percent said they wanted the country run by the current government, with President Hamid Karzai’s approval ratings at 72 percent. Is it really possible given an advancing Taliban insurgency that made 2009 the worst year for foreign forces in terms of casualties and Karzai’s own election mired in controversy over ballot rigging.
The survey, conducted in all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, doesn’t go into the reasons for the findings. But perhaps the clues lie in the answers themselves. While you would ordinarily expect violence to be the country’s number 1 problem, Afghans themselves rate economy/poverty/jobs at the top of the list, followed closely by security/violence/warlords.
Drilling down further, more than 40 percent of those polled said availability of jobs/economic opportunities was good compared with 29 percent the previous year. Perhaps that is one reason for the Afghans’ greater confidence in their future.
Even on the security front, things are changing according to General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The U.S. troop surge has already blunted the Taliban momentum and the tide is turning against the militant group, he told ABC.