Thursday, December 08, 2005

AFGHANISTAN, four years later:
Four years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghans express both vast support for the changes that have shaken their country and remarkable optimism for the future, despite the deep challenges they face in economic opportunity, security and basic services alike.

An ABC News poll in Afghanistan -- the first national survey there sponsored by a news organization -- underscores those challenges in a unique portrait of the lives of ordinary Afghans. Poverty is deep, medical care and other basic services lacking, and infrastructure minimal. Nearly six in 10 have no electricity in their homes, and just 3 percent have it around the clock. Seven in 10 Afghan adults have no more than an elementary education; half have no schooling whatsoever. Half have household incomes under $500 a year.

Yet despite these and other deprivations, 77 percent of Afghans say their country is headed in the right direction -- compared with 30 percent in the vastly better-off United States. Ninety-one percent prefer the current Afghan government to the Taliban regime, and 87 percent call the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban good for their country. Osama bin Laden, for his part, is as unpopular as the Taliban; nine in 10 view him unfavorably.

[...] The survey also finds broad majority support for women's rights in Afghan society, albeit, as in other readings, with more modest strength of commitment behind it. Nine in 10 Afghans support girls' education and women voting, three-quarters support women holding jobs and two-thirds support women holding government office — remarkable in a country where the Taliban so thoroughly repressed such rights. Perhaps surprisingly, support for most of these is nearly as high among men as it is among women.

[...] Eighty-three percent of Afghans express a favorable opinion of the United States overall, similar to the 87 percent who call the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban a good thing. That compares to favorable ratings of a mere 8 percent for the Taliban, and 5 percent for bin Laden. People who are unhappy with their local living conditions are twice as likely to have an unfavorable opinion of the United States.

[...] Notable in this survey is the similarity of views between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, the two doctrinal groups so sharply at odds in Iraq. As in most of the Arab world, Sunnis dominate in Afghanistan — 85 percent of the population is Sunni (including nearly all members of the Pashtun and Tajik ethnic groups) while 15 percent is Shiite (including nearly all ethnic Hazaras).
Keep on reading; if you want to dig further, you can read the full questionnaire (in pdf) and a detailed methodological statement (also in pdf).

And then you can think whether the reports coming from that country accurately reflect the situation in the ground, or whether there's anyone in the MSM considering the possibility that something similar eventually happens in Iraq. After all it was not that long ago that everybody in Afghanistan hated, hated the bad Americans.

(via Ed Driscoll and Tim Blair)

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