First conducted in 2004, The Asia Foundation’s annual Survey of the Afghan People, the broadest and largest in the country, measures Afghan citizens’ public perceptions of security, development, the economy, government, corruption, and women’s issues. Among the latest poll’s highlights: 47 percent said the country is moving in the right direction, up from 42 percent in 2009 and 38 percent in 2008. However, 27 percent said the country is headed in the wrong direction—a slight decrease from 29 percent in 2009 and 32 percent in 2008. For both camps, personal security—whether from violence, terrorism, or crime—was their top concern. Reasons for optimism include: improving security and progress in the rebuilding and opening of schools for girls. Reasons for pessimism include: declining security, corruption, poor government, and unemployment. Support for gender equality, including education for women, remains high, although support for women working outside the home fell from a high of 71 percent in 2006 to 64 percent in 2010, its lowest level to date.
Strikingly, those having “no sympathy” for the insurgency rose to 55 percent in 2010, up from 36 percent in 2009, and 83 percent approve of the government’s negotiations with armed opponents, up significantly from 71 percent last year. Afghans want peace and stability, says The Asia Foundation’s co-author of the survey, Mohammad Osman Tariq in Kabul, and they are “willing to do almost anything to get it.” Download the full survey.