INASIA

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Afghans Aren’t Giving Up

November 19, 2014

By Karl F. Inderfurth, Ted Eliot

Afghanistan’s newly inaugurated president, Ashraf Ghani, appears to be off to a good start with the Afghan people. He has announced a series of new initiatives and adopted a hands-on style of governing, including surprise visits to military posts, police stations, and hospitals. A recent survey by Afghan pollsters found that more than 8 out of 10 Afghans approve of his performance in his first month in office.

But Mr. Ghani and his partner and chief executive in the new unity government, Abdullah Abdullah, will have their work cut out for them in maintaining high approval ratings given the severity of the problems confronting the Afghan people, as identified in a survey directed by The Asia Foundation in Kabul.

This is the 10th year that this survey has been undertaken. More than 900 experienced Afghan interviewers polled some 9,300 Afghans, half of them men, half women, across all of the country’s 34 provinces. The polling took place following the presidential runoff election in June and before the new unity government took office on Sept. 29th. The survey’s margin of error is miniscule, less than 2 percent.

The No. 1 concern of Afghans is their personal security, which is not surprising given the withdrawal of much of the United States and NATO security forces and intensified Taliban attacks across the country. In the latest survey, 65 percent of respondents said they fear for their own and their family’s safety some or all the time, a significant jump from 59 percent in 2013.

One encouraging note is a rising level of trust in Afghan security forces – 86 percent of those polled expressed confidence in the army. Still, over half the Afghan people (56 percent) say they think their country’s security forces will continue to need foreign support. One of Mr. Ghani’s first acts as president, to sign longer-term bilateral security agreements with both the United States and NATO, was a popular move.

Read the full piece, originally published by The New York Times.

Asia Foundation trustee Karl Inderfurth is the former assistant secretary of state for South Asian Affairs and trustee Ted Eliot is a former ambassador to Afghanistan. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and not those of The Asia Foundation.

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