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Polling in Afghanistan

The Globe & Mail, and sundry other Canadian media organisations have paid to have the unfortunate people of Afghanistan polled on the issues of the day, and the results are quite noteworthy. While polling in Helmand is unlikely to be as straightforward / accurate as polling in the Yukon or Ontario, there is a full breakdown of statistical method, and it deserves to be taken seriously. There is a heightened emphasis on Kandahar, as our Canadian friends are based there.

So, the Big One:

What do Afghans think about the multitude of foreign countries that have been present in their country over the past five years? Most believe this has been a positive presence. Six in ten (60%) Afghans say the foreign presence is a good thing for their country, compared with 16 percent who say it is a bad thing; another 22 percent are more ambivalent...Are the foreign countries doing a good job fighting the Taliban? Yes, say nearly two thirds (64%) of
Afghans, versus 17 percent who say a bad job (in Kandahar, 58% say a good job versus 27% who disagree.

So, pretty good, all things considered.

But not this: In terms of public awareness of the presence of foreign countries (covering all functions and roles), Canada ranks fourth after the United States (95%), Germany (63%), the U.K. (52%) and then Canada at 46 percent.

I think that is a bit raw given that the British are by far the second biggest contributor to NATO forces after the Americans.

And "Who, top of mind, is fighting the Taliban? Nationwide, it is almost exclusively the United States (89%) that is seen as playing this role. Few mention any other country, including Germany (4%) and, the U.K. (3%), with virtually no mention of Canada. Even in Kandahar (where our forces have lost 71 soldiers and counting), it is the U.S. who is seen as the military presence (90%), with only two percent naming Canada. This result is in sharp contrast to the perspective within Canada, where the public is painfully aware of our troop casualties, the highest proportion of any foreign country".

And the Taliban?

When asked, almost three quarters of Afghans nationwide have a very negative (53%) or somewhat negative (20%) opinion of the Taliban, compared with only 14 percent who hold a positive view.

And the more run of the mill questions?:

"A majority (51%) say their country is going in the right direction compared with 28 percent who say it is heading in the wrong direction...six in ten (60%) Afghans say they are personally better off today than they were in 2002...Seven in ten (71%) are very or somewhat positive in their general opinion of the Karzi government (versus 20% who are negative), and six in ten (59%) believe the Karzi government represents their interests as an Afghan".

So, it looks as though the work of NATO is appreciated, and the men on the ground are making a difference. What chance this poll being picked up by the UK media, I wonder?

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