A new nationwide study in Afghanistan on Tuesday revealed some 89% of the population backs the rejuvenated peace process.
On the heels of intense clashes between government forces and Taliban insurgents amid various initiatives to reinvigorate peace talks in different world capitals, the Asia Foundation report indicated an increase in optimism for a peaceful settlement.
Based on interviews with nearly 18,000 Afghans conducted between July 11 to Aug. 7, 2019, the report provides comparative data from similar surveys beginning in 2004.
Abdullah Ahmadzai, the Asia Foundation’s country representative in Afghanistan, said the increased optimism around the peace talks along with persistent fears about insecurity and the economy continue to influence Afghan views.
“Following the collapse of the talks and election delays (which took place after this year’s Survey fieldwork), prospects for a sustainable political settlement are unclear. More than ever, empirical data is a crucial resource for the future and development of Afghanistan”, he said.
The study revealed Afghans are increasingly fearful for their personal safety, but slightly more believe the country is moving in the right direction, compared to previous years.
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump said during a surprise visit to Afghanistan the Taliban wanted to make a peace deal. “The Taliban wants to make a deal, and we’re meeting with them,” Trump said in a meeting with his Afghan counterpart President Ashraf Ghani during his visit at Bagram Airfield.
In early September, Trump declared the peace talks with the Taliban “dead” following an attack in the capital Kabul which killed a dozen people, including a U.S. service member.
Following Trump’s move, the Taliban opened new battlefronts across the war-weary nation, as Afghan security forces — suffering casualties and desertions — struggle to beat back a revitalized insurgency.