NATO is encouraged by the positive trends found in the most recent polling data from ABC/BBC/ARD, which surveyed 1500 Afghans in mid-December 2009, indicating greater popularity for NATO's mission and decreased support for the Taliban.
"The increasing optimism of the Afghan people in their future is welcome news to NATO and the men and women of the the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Our population centric strategy and the commitment to add 37,000 more troops in 2010 is creating a new momentum for the mission, which is reflected in this poll", said the NATO Spokesman, James Appathurai.
In the highest levels of optimism since 2007, 70% say that their country is going in the right direction and that overall living conditions had improved since 2001. They also express confidence that their situation will continue to improve in the coming year. Nearly two-thirds believe their children will have a better life.
Afghans note positively the performance of the police and army and express confidence in their ability to provide security and stability in their area, with three-quarters believing that Afghan National Security Forces will be able to take over security in Afghanistan starting in 18 months. Afghan support for NATO troops increased to 62%, with nearly the same number supporting the recently-announced troop uplift. Three-quarters believe attacks against NATO forces cannot be justified.
Only 6% of those polled said they favour a Taliban government, reflecting the fact that the Taliban have no widespread constituency, have a history of failure in power and lack a positive vision.
Afghanistan still faces significant challenges, not the least of which is corruption and the lack of jobs, which the poll shows are high on the list of Afghan concerns. This is why NATO has repeatedly said that there is no military solution to Afghanistan because good governance and long-term development are just as important to Afghans as their security. These positive indicators come at a critical juncture as the International Community prepares to agree on a new compact with Afghanistan at the upcoming London Conference on 28 January.
NATO encouraged by recent Afghan poll