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Afghans skeptical about progress in peace talks: Survey

AFGHANS SKEPTICAL ABOUT PROGRESS IN PEACE TALKS: SURVEY

A survey involving Afghan people revealed that they are skeptical about progress in peace talks with Taliban militant group.

The findings of the Asia Foundation's 13th Survey of the Afghan People are based on face-to-face interviews with a national sample of more than 10,000 Afghan citizens representing all major and most minor ethnic groups in all 34 provinces.

According to the survey, just over half of the Afghan respondents (52.3 percent) believe reconciliation with the Taliban militant group is possible.

However, it also revealed that a downward trajectory in national mood which began in 2013 has reversed, and optimism has risen in 2017.

Almost one-third of Afghans see gaining power as the Taliban's primary motivation for fighting. Another 18.1 percent attribute the fighting to support from foreign countries.

While the Taliban still arouse some sympathy among the population, Daesh lacks any substantial public support. The vast majority of Afghans, 91.5 percent, declare themselves to have "no sympathy" at all for the group.

According to respondents, the factors driving Daesh's involvement in Afghanistan are the desire to gain power (19.5 percent) and support from foreign countries (12.3 percent).

When contacted, Abdul Hakeem Mujahed, deputy head of the High Peace Council (HPC), top government body tasked to broker a peace deal with the Taliban, told Anadolu Agency that efforts on the very local level are vigorously underway to pave the way for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

"We have tasked teams to reach out to religious and tribal elders, civil society activists and academic figures in all 34 province to have their views and later share it with the government for a comprehensive strategy for peace talks with the Taliban," Mujahed said, who personally headed one such team to the southeastern Paktia province.

David D. Arnold, president of the Asia Foundation, has said the survey is a map of social change over time, presenting a clear picture of the gains and gaps that Afghans perceive in a rapidly transforming nation. "In this crucial period of political and economic transition, the importance of comprehensive, reliable data cannot be overstated,"

Abdullah Ahmadzai, the Asia Foundation's country representative, said after a historic decline in 2016, confidence in public institutions and the Afghan security forces has improved in 2017.

"The Survey also reveals what Afghans see as their immediate priorities: educational development, agricultural development, good security, and the building of roads and bridges are frequently cited as going well at the local level."

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