Afghans more upbeat but corruption worse: survey

More Afghans think their country is moving in the right direction according to a survey by Asia Foundation.


Reuters November 09, 2010

KABUL: More Afghans think their country, torn by three decades of war and civil unrest, is moving in the right direction but worries about corruption are up sharply, according to an Asia Foundation survey released on Tuesday.

In a 2010 gauge of the national mood, 47 percent of Afghans believe the country is on the right track, up from 42 percent the year before, the survey showed.

Thirty-eight percent of those who were upbeat about the progress their country was showing cited better security, as well as reconstruction and more schooling for girls.

Lack of security, including attacks, violence and terrorism, topped the national problem list, with 37 percent citing it.

Violence has reached its deadliest levels since the Taliban were forced from power in 2001. More than one of every six survey sites had to be switched this year for security reasons, up from 2 percent in 2007.

Eighty-three percent of Afghans support talks with insurgents and reintegration of armed groups, according to the survey, up from 71 percent last year. Karzai's government has said it has made preliminary contacts with insurgents as Afghan, US and Nato officials look for ways to resolve the conflict.

Joblessness remained the number two national problem, at 28 percent. Corruption was in third place at 27 percent of respondents, up steeply from 17 percent last year.

The jump "may be due to the increased focus, particularly by the international community, on corruption as a key dimension in bad governance," the report said.

Corruption index

Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog, ranks Afghanistan as one of the world's most corrupt countries, equal with Myanmar and ahead of only Somalia on its list of 178 nations.

President Hamid Karzai has been under intense pressure from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) countries with troops in Afghanistan to root out corruption in his government, which has complicated the fight against Taliban insurgents.

Critics argue that bad governance and corruption help the Taliban-led insurgency to flourish.

The survey finding suggests "that an increasing proportion of the Afghan public is in favor of a political solution to the ongoing conflict in the country rather than a purely military one," the report said.

Afghanistan will head the agenda at a Nato summit in Lisbon this month, with many European Nato members under pressure at home to justify their continued commitment to the increasingly unpopular war.

US President Barack Obama, who will review his Afghanistan war strategy next month, has pledged to begin a gradual troop withdrawal from July 2011.

The survey interviewed 6,467 Afghans over 18 years of age and was carried out from June 18 to July 5. The US Agency for International Development paid for the poll, the foundation's sixth in Afghanistan since 2004.

(The 2010 survey is available at: http://asiafoundation.org/ag2010poll)

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