Tuesday, July 13, 2004

"Shame on you, Mr Bush, shame on you!"

Re-election poll of Afghans finds optimism

Cox News Service

WASHINGTON — Almost two-thirds of the Afghans responding to an opinion poll said they rarely or never worry about their personal safety, and about half rated security in their areas as excellent or good.

The data were gathered to assist in voter education as the United Nations and other groups register Afghans to vote ahead of the country's October presidential election.

The feelings of Afghans toward the United States, which led the 2001 invasion to depose the extreme Islamic Taliban regime after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, were positive in most areas of the country. Nationally, 65 percent expressed favorable views, while the poll found a plurality reported unfavorable opinions in the south and northwest.

About 18,000 U.S. troops are currently in Afghanistan hunting militants and assisting in the country's reconstruction and election preparations.

Results from the poll conducted earlier this year were released Tuesday. The survey was commissioned by the Asia Foundation, a non-partisan think tank, and prepared by Charney Research.

The performance of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, the leading candidate in the October election, was rated good or excellent by 62 percent of the respondents.

Those discontented with the current transitional government want more aid and assistance, not a return to the past, said Craig Charney, who went twice to Afghanistan and coauthored the report on the results. The United Nations was viewed positively by 84 percent of the respondents.

"What they do not say is, 'We want the foreigners out and the Taliban back.' In short, what the Taliban is offering — namely the return to the Middle Ages — is the opposite of what the discontented want. They want more modernity, they want more development," Charney said.

The overall unfavorable view of the Taliban was 75 percent in the poll.


Officials have reported growing momentum in voter registration, including many women who often face discrimination for such participation.


The poll was conducted between Feb. 22 and March 13 with interviews of 804 randomly selected adults. The margin of sampling error for the national results was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.