Survey: Afghans support central government, but ethnic divisions are sharp

 

McClatchy Washington Bureau

With Afghanistan’s presidential elections less than two months away, a new public opinion survey has found hopeful signs that Afghan voters are ready to build a unified nation after three decades of war.

The survey found that respondents overwhelmingly trust the country’s national government, its army and its police and oppose Taliban rule. Nearly 80 percent of respondents said they believe the Afghan government effectively controls the country. About 72 percent said they trust the national army and 64 percent said they trust the national police.

But exactly how Afghans want to pursue the peace process is unclear. Although most Afghans desire a peace agreement with the Taliban, they have little confidence it would be honored. Most reject Western involvement in Afghan politics but nearly 80 percent insist the international community should help rebuild the country by providing development aid, supporting elections and mediating negotiations with the Taliban, the survey says.

The survey was conducted in September and October by Assess, Transform and Reach, a Kabul-based consulting firm, which surveyed more than 4,200 respondents from 11 provinces. But Lola Cecchinel, head of research at ATR, said there was no way to know if the sample, despite its size, was representative of the total Afghan population, since no census has been conducted in Afghanistan since 1979. Afghanistan is home to at least 14 distinct ethnic groups whose representation in the population is subject to debate, as is the actual size of the population.

Despite the seemingly overwhelming support for the Afghan government, “there are still very complex differences between groups,” Cecchinel said of the survey’s results.

The survey revealed a sharp division between the country’s north, where Tajiks are the dominant ethnic group, and the south, where Pashtuns dominate. The Taliban are largely Pashtun, while Tajiks were the primary members of the Northern Alliance, which fought Taliban rule prior to U.S. intervention after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Only 2 percent of respondents in the north favored Taliban rule compared with more than 26 percent in the south, the survey found.

Perceptions of living conditions also were divided between north and south. Most Afghans in the south said their living conditions had deteriorated, while 73 percent of people in the north said their living conditions had improved over the last decade.

A recent Gallup poll showed nearly 55 percent of Afghans live in poor conditions, the highest percentage among all countries polled by the organization in 2013 and the highest percentage in Afghanistan since Gallup began surveying the country in 2008.

Opinion surveys have been controversial in Afghanistan, where some politicians have claimed the U.S. government has conducted surveys designed to produce results favorable to U.S. policies in the country. While U.S. officials deny that charge, the Obama administration has decided not to fund any public opinion surveys prior to the presidential elections, which are scheduled for April. ATR’s survey was not commissioned by the United States.

Email: fwaseem@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @fatimahwaseem

Read more World Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Israeli students with their parents make their way to elementary school on the first day of the school year in the costal city of Ashkelon, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. Thousands of children in southern Israel return to school Monday after spending the summer vacation in bomb shelters taking cover from the thousands of Palestinian rockets and mortars fired from Gaza during 50 days of war.

    Israeli children return to school after Gaza war

    Thousands of Israeli children in areas near the Gaza Strip went back to school Monday after spending the summer in bomb shelters as rockets and mortars rained on their communities during the 50-day Israel-Hamas war, while schools in Gaza remained shuttered as the territory recovered from the fighting.

  •  
FILE - The New York Stock Exchange is shown, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011 file photo taken in New York. Global stock markets were muted Thursday Aug. 28, 2014 ahead of U.S. economic data and possible policy announcements from Japan.

    Asia stocks gain on stimulus hopes, Europe lower

    European shares drifted lower Monday as tensions over Ukraine simmered while Asian stock markets mostly rose on expectations of stimulus in China after manufacturing growth slowed in August.

  •  
Pro-democracy lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai, center, is taken away by security guards after a protest against Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, in Hong Kong Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. China's legislature on Sunday ruled out allowing open nominations in the inaugural election for Hong Kong's leader, saying they would create a "chaotic society." Democracy activists in the Asian financial hub responded by saying that a long-threatened mass occupation of the heart of the city "will definitely happen."

    China anti-dissent playbook may fail in Hong Kong

    China's Communist leaders have pulled out their usual playbook to suppress resistance to their plans to tightly limit the first direct election of Hong Kong's leader, but are likely to find that the results are quite different.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category