South Asia

Afghans more optimistic about future - poll

A man shows bananas for sale at a market in Kabul on 8 November 2010
Image caption Many Afghans expressed concern about widespread unemployment

Afghans are more optimistic about the future than they were previously, a national poll has found.

Forty-seven per cent of those quizzed by the Asia Foundation thought Afghanistan was moving in the right direction, compared with 41% last year.

The survey, funded by the US Agency for International Development, found strong support for President Hamid Karzai's attempts to engage with the Taliban.

But most respondents said violence remained a serious concern.

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says the findings of the opinion poll are surprising, considering the fact that most Afghans are fighting corruption, poverty and insecurity.

Our correspondent says Afghans often say they are caught in the crossfire between the Taliban and pro-government forces.

This has been the bloodiest year yet in the US-led coalition's nine-year war against the Taliban, with civilian casualties at an all-time high.

Unemployment

While 47% of Afghans in the survey, now in its sixth year, said they thought their country was moving in the right direction, the remainder either had mixed feelings, or were pessimistic about the state of their country.

Violence and insecurity remained the biggest challenges facing Afghanistan, respondents said.

Over half of those surveyed said they feared for their own safety in their local area.

The other big worries were corruption and unemployment, which is still widespread in the country.

More people than ever before appear to believe that a political, and not just a military solution, would bring peace to Afghanistan.

Eighty-three per cent of people were in favour of President Karzai's attempts to talk to the insurgents, compared with 12% last year.

According to the survey, there was falling support for the insurgents and their cause nationally.

But in the south and west of the country, at least half the people had some level of sympathy for the militants.

More than 6,400 adults were polled in June and July in all Afghanistan's 34 provinces, excluding some dangerous areas.

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