World

Most Afghans back peace talks with Taliban: poll

Four out of five Afghans support government efforts to negotiate peace with Taliban insurgents, according to a poll released Tuesday in Kabul.

Sympathy for Taliban eroding, summer survey suggests

Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed Monday his government is in informal talks with the Taliban.

More than 80 per cent of Afghans support the government's efforts to negotiate peace with Taliban insurgents, according to a poll released Tuesday in Kabul.

The poll conducted during the summer ranked insecurity as the top concern among citizens, followed by unemployment and corruption.

Eighty-three per cent of respondents said they back efforts to secure the country through negotiation with armed anti-government groups, the survey conducted by the Asia Foundation found. That's up from 71 per cent last year.

The report also indicated that 55 per cent of Afghan adults had no sympathy at all for the armed opposition groups — up from 36 per cent last year —- and 26 per cent had only a little sympathy.

Moreover, 81 per cent — 10 percentage points more than last year — support programs to lure Taliban foot soldiers off the battlefield by providing assistance, jobs and housing to those who lay down their arms and reintegrate into society.

President Hamid Karzai has made reconciliation a priority and recently formed a 70-member peace council to find a political solution to the war, now in its 10th year.

Officials in the government and the NATO military coalition in Afghanistan have confirmed that contacts are being made with top insurgent leaders, but say no formal peace talks are yet underway.

The poll published Tuesday questioned 6,400 adults during June and July in all of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, excluding some dangerous areas. The survey, conducted with funding from the U.S. government's Agency for International Development, claims a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

The San Francisco-based Asia Foundation describes itself as a non-profit organization working for a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region.