Conflicting Polls and Waning Optimism

December 7, 2006

According to yet another opinion poll from Afghanistan (this one conducted by ABC+BBC) the people of Afghanistan are increasingly pessimistic about future:

“Public optimism has declined sharply across Afghanistan, pushed by a host of fresh difficulties.” (Click here for PDF copy of the poll’s findings)

These findings fly straight in the face of another recent poll, the very first “Key Finding” of which was that:

“The national mood was found to be positive on the whole.” (Click for Asia Foundation’s Survey of Afghan People)

I always felt that the methodology used for these surveys (especially given the constraints peculiar to Afghanistan) was suspect -now I have evidence.

Methodology aside, the findings do reflect what a modest measure of common sense would also reveal: the people of Afghanistan are not happy about how things have turned out (which is very different from what they had expected, and what they had been promised,) and they have little reason to think that this will change in the forseeable future.

Sympathy for the Taliban has increased in the South (among Pashtuns,) while at the same time as increasing numbers of Tajiks and Hazaras see the Taliban once again threatening Afghanistan. More people think that it is OK to cultivate opium. Other indicators (security, quality of life, the condition of women…) also point to a dismal downward trajectory.

I personally feel that the condition of the economy (unemployment is at roughly 50%) has a lot to do with how people view their future and that of the country at large, and justice has not been done in the recent polls (especially this one) to reflect this.

“It’s the economy, stupid!” -somebody ought to yell that in Afghanistan as well.