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The Nation, Pakistan

December 8, 2010


WASHINGTON – Almost two-third of Afghans are willing to accept deal allowing Taliban leaders to hold political office in the war-torn country, according to a new poll.

The poll released Monday also shows that Afghan confidence in US military operations to secure the country is dropping while Afghan support for the insurgency is rising. After a big drop last year, more than a quarter of Afghans again say attacks against US and other foreign military forces are justifiable.

Afghans indicated that they were pessimistic about the direction of their country and less confident about the US-led coalition troops, according to results of a poll conducted for The Washington Post, ABC News, the BBC and ARD television in Germany.

More than a half of Afghans said the US and NATO forces should begin withdrawing from the country in mid-2011 or sooner. A year ago, 61 percent of Afghans said they supported the deployment of 30,000 additional US troops.
while the new poll indicated 49 percent support the move, with 49 percent opposed.

Moreover, more than a quarter of Afghans said attacks against US and other foreign military forces were justifiable. Overall, about 75 percent of Afghans said they believe their government should negotiate with the Taliban, and nearly two-third indicated a willingness to accept a deal allowing Taliban leaders to hold political office.

The poll found support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai remains strong, despite allegations of corruption. About 65 percent of Afghans rated Karzai’s leadership as good or excellent, compared with 72 percent in 2009.
The number of people who blame US forces for violence rose from 5 percent last year to 14 percent this year, while the number blaming the Taliban fell from 42 percent to 33 percent, the survey indicated.

Results are based on in-person interviews with a random national sample of 1,691 Afghan adults Oct 29-Nov 13 by the Afghan Centre for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research in Kabul. The margin of errror is 3.5 percentage points.

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