Survey shows majority of Afghans hope peace talks end war

By: The Kabul Times

KABUL: A recent survey has found that the majority of Afghans are optimistic about talks and believe that such negotiations can bring an end to the 19-year-old war.

The Institute of War and Peace Studies, a non-profit Kabul-based think tank, in conjunction with the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) released findings of a study this week ‘The Afghan People’s Peace Perception Survey’ which aims to “bring forth perspectives of Afghans, and inform policy and decision-makers of their concerns.”

The IWPS said the survey aimed to help those involved in the peace process – including policy-makers, political elite, civil society, and the media, to make informed decisions and play a constructive role during the intra-Afghan peace negotiations and drafting of a peace agreement.

“The purpose of this survey was to collect data about and assess the mainstream narrative encompassing people’s needs, priorities, and concerns about the peace process. The findings of this survey challenge most of the current theories and narratives on the Afghan peace process held by the Afghan media, diplomatic circles, and the elite,” the report read.

According to IWPS, 85.6 percent of respondents are optimistic about the ongoing peace talks – the majority of the Afghan populace believes that peace talks can bring an end to the on-going war.

However, 69 percent of respondents prefer the Islamic Republic to maintain sustainable peace, while only seven percent would rather have an Islamic Emirate.

In addition, 81 percent of respondents believe a centralized state structure is the best option after a peace agreement, while only 10 percent said they will accept an Amir-ul Momineen as the Head of State in Afghanistan after a peace deal.

Thirty-six percent of respondents stated the Taliban’s cruelty was a source of concern for them, while 49.5 percent of respondents across the country stated they do not like any of the Taliban’s services (social justice, security, discipline, and economic opportunity).

But 50 percent of the respondents in southern Afghanistan said they like the economic opportunities provided by the Taliban.

While 62 percent of the respondents stated they do not know a member of the Taliban movement personally, 40 percent stated they do not know who leads the Taliban movement.

A majority of 67.8 percent of respondents trusted the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, stating that their security is maintained by government, while 68.4 percent of the respondents said they turn to government to resolve their disputes.

Thirty-five percent of respondents meanwhile expressed concern about the withdrawal of foreign troops and 42 percent said they were in favor of the continuation of the presence of the international forces after a peace deal.

According to the findings of the IWPS, the level of support for the presence of international forces in Afghanistan after a peace deal was higher in the eastern, central, and south-eastern regions of the country.

However, the presence of US forces in Afghanistan impacted the lives of Afghan citizens differently; 35 percent reported that the presence of US forces has had a positive impact on their lives.

On an early presidential election or formation of an interim government post the signing of a peace deal, 56 percent were in favor of this.  However, almost 42 percent of all respondents said they would leave the country if they had the chance.

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