ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN —
A new public opinion survey in Afghanistan indicates signs of cautious optimism despite concerns over insecurity and corruption. The survey results, released Tuesday in Afghan capital, Kabul, come as another Taliban suicide attack caused fatalities in the city.
The U.S.-based Asia Foundation released findings of its survey in Kabul, saying insecurity, corruption and unemployment continue to be the top concerns for a large proportion of the Afghan public.
Country representative Abdullah Ahmadzai said surveyors, deployed across 34 Afghan provinces, found a slight increase in the number of people who feel their country is moving in the wrong direction (40.4 percent -- up from the previous year’s 37.9). But he said the number who feel the opposite still prevails.
“This year 54 percent of the respondents say that their country is moving in the right direction, which is down from 57 percent in 2013,” he said.
Ahmadzai cited a rise in civilian casualties for the sharp increase in security concerns among ordinary Afghans in the past year, adding that more than 76 percent of respondents said they would be afraid when traveling around the country.
“Civilian deaths were up since 2013, and 65 percent expressed increased fear for their safety overall, which is up from 59 percent in 2013,” said Ahmadzai.
However, Ahmadzai said the survey indicates Afghans are generally hopeful the new government will take measures to steer the country out of its security and economic crisis, and will bring improvements to education, health, status of women and other social sectors.
“Roughly two-thirds of Afghans are hopeful that results of the recent election will improve their lives and most believe the government’s reconciliation efforts with the armed opposition groups will increase stability in the country,” said Ahmadzai.
International forces led by the United States are preparing to end their combat mission and withdraw from Afghanistan next month. The security transition will mean national forces will be responsible for protecting Afghan citizens across the country, starting next year. Ahmadzai said the survey noted a marked increase in corruption in some government sectors, but the Afghan national army has experienced the lowest rate, and also is gaining confidence of the population.
“Notably, more than 62 percent cited that corruption is a problem in their daily life, up from 55 percent in 2013. The lowest rate of corruption reported relates to the Afghan National Army where only 32.8 percent reported they had experienced corruption,” said Ahmadzai.
The rise in Taliban attacks and the unprecedented fatalities Afghan forces have suffered in the outgoing year, though, underscore the security challenge facing new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
A Taliban suicide bomber, together with two gunmen, attacked a coalition compound Tuesday in Kabul. The violence left four people dead, including two Afghan security guards. Two suicide bombers tried to assassinate the capital’s police chief and an Afghan female lawmaker in the past week, but they survived the assaults.