Case Study8: Afghans Express Confidence in Country’s Direction

28 Mar

Although both of these stories are well written and full of details, I liked the USA Today story better.  I think its writer did a better job of giving the facts and statistics of the survey while keeping any opinion out of it.  The Times piece showed a bit more of the writer’s influence and voice.  I also liked the way that the Today writer bulleted all of the statistics.  I felt like the story was more balanced and easier to read, and that the writer was just giving the facts, allowing readers to interpret them how they may.

Poll: Afghans express confidence in country’s direction, security

Despite a raging pro-Taliban insurgency, the people of Afghanistan say they are optimistic about the future, satisfied with their young democracy and rank security low on their list of every day concerns, according to a survey out today.

In what it is billing as the widest opinion poll conducted in Afghanistan, the non-profit, San Francisco-based Asia Foundation surveyed 6,226 Afghans 18 and older in 32 of the country’s 34 provinces over the summer.

The poll found that:

•Afghans were more than twice as likely (44 percent to 21 percent) to think their country was headed in the right direction, rather than the wrong direction; 29 percent had mixed feelings. Still, the optimists were down from 64 percent in a smaller Asia Foundation survey conducted in 2004.

•77 percent said they were satisfied with the way democracy is working in Afghanistan.

•Only 6 percent ranked security as the biggest problem in their area, behind unemployment (18), electricity shortages (12), poverty (10), a weak economy (10) and scarce water supplies (9). Sixty percent said they rarely or never worried about their own safety. However, 22 percent said security was the biggest problem facing the nation.

•54 percent said they were more prosperous now than they were under the Taliban, which governed Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001; 26 percent felt less prosperous.

  • 86 percent supported equal rights for women.

•42 percent said corruption was a major problem in their daily lives, and 77 percent called it a major national problem.

•Afghans had contradictory attitudes toward political tolerance: 85 percent said the government should allow peaceful opposition, but 64 percent said they would not allow political parties they personally opposed to meet in their areas.

•87 percent said they trusted the Afghan National Army, and 86 percent said they trusted the Afghan National Police. The police, in particular, have been widely criticized for being corrupt, brutal and beholden to local warlords.

“I have never met one person, including the minister of the Interior, who trusted the Afghan National Police,” Barnett Rubin, who studies Afghanistan at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, said in an email. “I think this is not a very reliable survey.”

George Varughese, who directed the poll for the Asia Foundation, agrees that some of the results “appear to challenge the current wisdom on issues in Afghanistan,” but says, “We feel it is a solid, important piece of work, completed during a difficult time.”

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