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Afghan Poll Shows Deep Dissatisfaction With Kabul Leadership

FILE - Public dissatisfaction with President Ashraf Ghani, pictured March 26, 2015, dates to the disputed 2014 Afghan presidential election, says a former deputy U.S. ambassador to Kabul following a poll showing deep dissatisfaction with the leadership.

As Afghanistan's national unity government approaches its second anniversary, a new BBG-Gallup survey shows deep public dissatisfaction with the country's national leadership.

Nearly 81 percent of respondents said they were somewhat or very dissatisfied with the performance of the national unity government, while 17 percent said they were somewhat or very satisfied.

The survey was conducted October 27 to November 18 among a nationally representative sample of 2,500 adults across all of the country's 34 provinces. It found that dissatisfaction ran across Afghanistan's ethnic and geographic spectrums.

David Sedney, a former deputy U.S. ambassador to Kabul, said public dissatisfaction with President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah dates to the disputed 2014 Afghan presidential election.

"When President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah came in, there was huge hope for the future that things would change, and things haven't changed," Sedney said. "The national unity government has been essentially locked in this unending struggle over patronage and appointments, and has not made much if any improvements in people's daily lives."

Pessimism about future

The respondents were asked for their assessment of life today compared with a year ago, and expectations of life 12 months from today.

Nearly 69 percent said their lives have gotten somewhat worse or much worse over the past year, while 30 percent provided a more positive response.

What is more, almost 46 percent said they expected life to get even worse 12 months from now. Just over 24 percent said life would get better, while 30 percent said they didn't know how it would fare.

Afghans favor India over Pakistan

The survey also asked respondents for their opinions of 10 selected countries and organizations. India received nearly 62 percent favorable rating while Pakistan, at 3.7 percent, was at the bottom of the list, faring even worse than Islamic State (Daesh), which received a 5.8 percent favorable rating.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have deep linguistic, ethnic and cultural links, but have had tense relations in recent years. Pakistan's dismal rating reflects a widespread belief among Afghans that the country is the source of all their problems, Sedney said

"While I think that [view] is overblown … the bottom line is the Taliban kill Afghans and the Taliban do so from bases in Pakistan. That's been the case for 15, 20 years now and Afghans are realists and they know who is killing them."

VOA's Afghan service contributed to this report.