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Optimism about future increases among Afghans

in Afghan Business

Optimism about future increases among Afghans

surveyAccording to the Asia Foundation’s 9th annual public opinion survey,  Afghanistan in 2013: A Survey of the Afghan People, more than half of Afghans (57%) say the country is moving in the right direction, the highest number in more than half a decade.

The main reasons cited for the optimism are reconstruction efforts (32%), good security (24%), an improved education system (13%), the opening of schools for girls (13%), and the active presence of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) (13%).

Although the proportion of Afghans who attribute their pessimism about the direction of the country to the issue of insecurity declined in 2012 and 2013, it has been the leading reason for pessimism every year since 2007. The proportion of Afghans cit- ing corruption as a reason for pessimism rose significantly in 2013. The proportion of Afghans citing unemployment is at its highest point since 2006.

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, explains that with the news media’s focus on all the bad news in Afghanistan, it’s easy to forget that many quality of life issues have improved in recent years, especially in Kabul and in the northern and western parts of the country.

“Security problems have diminished to some extent, allowing for more mobility and freedom, as well as more commerce and economic activity. This translates to more secure livelihoods and satisfaction,” Kugelman said. In fact, the survey shows that most Afghans (88 percent) have confidence in their military and slightly fewer (77 percent) in the police. Also, the condition of women has improved, and many girls, barred from school during the Taliban era, are now getting an education. (DW)

Corruption remains to be a pressing problem for many Afghans. Afghanistan ranks third from last in a recent comparative analysis of citizen perceptions of corruption in 176 countries, with the annual cost of corruption estimated at around USD $3.9 billion. In the past year the local media has made efforts to expose the extent and nature of corruption in the country.  To date, the government’s efforts in fighting the problem have not produced the desired positive results. Corruption at all levels of society continues to affect most Afghan citizens.

Regarding the presidential election, the survey reveals Afghans’ mixed feelings. Although a majority of them (61 percent) say they believe elections in their country are generally free and fair, and more than half say that the upcoming presidential vote has the potential to improve their lives. A vast majority of those interviewed expressed fear about voting in a national election due to security concerns.

With the chances of an intensification of the insurgency in 2014, it will be more important for the Afghan government to convince its people that it’s a better alternative to the Taliban. “This will require a new leadership that tackles corruption, practices fair justice, expands basic services, addresses unemployment, and puts the Taliban on the defensive,” Kugelman added. (DW)

To access full report, please click here.

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