In the tricky world of measuring public opinion in Afghanistan, a new survey reports that Afghans are more confident about their future, prefer the administration President Hamid Karzai over the Taliban, and support the presence of American and NATO troops, even though many rate the work of the U.S. military poorly. Here are some other findings:
68 per cent back the presence of U.S. troops, compared with 63 per cent a year ago, and 61 per cent favour the military buildup of 37,000 U.S. and NATO reinforcements.
83 per cent say it was either very good or mostly good that the U.S. pushed the Taliban out of power in 2001. This compares with 69 per cent a year ago.
However, 43 per cent believe the U.S. and NATO are doing a worse job at avoiding civilian casualties, compared to 24 per cent who think they are doing a better job.
And only 38 per cent say the U.S. is doing good or excellent work in Afghanistan - up 6 points above last year, but well below the 68 per cent positive rating of 2005.
69 per cent believe the Taliban poses the biggest danger to the country, and 66 per cent blame the Taliban, al-Qaeda and foreign jihadis for violence in Afghanistan.
But 65 per cent favour a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, unchanged from last year.
43 per cent report that civilians in their area have been seriously hurt by Taliban, al-Qaeda or foreign jihadis, while 35 per cent say that local civilians have been hurt by U.S. or NATO troops and 25 per cent say that civilians in their area were hurt by the Afghan army or police.
90 per cent said they want their country run by the current government, compared with 6 per cent who favoured the Taliban.
72 per cent say Mr. Karzai is doing a good or excellent job, a 20-point jump in a year.
But 57 per cent think there was fraud in the presidential election, half of whom think the fraud was widespread.
And 76 per cent say that corruption is a big problem, compared with 63 per cent last year.
70 per cent says they believe Afghanistan is going in the right direction - a 30-point jump from 40 per cent a year ago.
61 per cent say they expect the next generation will have a better life - up 14 per cent in the past 12 months.
The poll was conducted for the BBC, ABC News and German broadcaster ARD in December by 34 teams of male and female surveyors who conducted face-to-face interviews with Afghan adults in the country's 34 provinces. The sample of 1,534 respondents has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The interviews were done by the Kabul-based Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research, a subsidiary of a U.S. firm that conducts opinion research in difficult places. Security concerns kept interviewers from visiting 11 of 101 targeted districts, which had to be randomly substituted by other districts in the same province. Also, women were not surveyed in three provinces, Paktika, Uruzgan and Zabul, because female interviewers could not work there. The pollster said those provinces account for less than 2 per cent of Afghanistan's total population.