2006 Poll: Strife Erodes Afghan Optimism

Groups

Afghanistan is divided by ethnic or tribal groups: About four in 10 are Pashtuns, concentrated in the east and south, a bit fewer are Tajiks, mostly in the center and north, and just over one in 10 are Hazaras, in the central Hazarjat region. Pashtuns dominate the Taliban. Indeed, 18 percent of Pashtuns express a favorable view of the Taliban, compared with 4 percent of other Afghans.

Far fewer Pashtuns describe the Taliban as the country's greatest danger -- 46 percent, compared with 74 percent of Hazaras and 61 percent of Tajiks. Pashtuns also are more conservative socially -- seven in 10 call it unacceptable for women to supervise men at work -- and less optimistic than other Afghans.

Afghanistan is not driven by the Sunni/Shiite sectarian divisions seen in Iraq. One difference is that Afghanistan's population is more homogenous -- 87 percent Sunni, 12 percent Shiite. Shiites, naturally, express greater concern about the Taliban, a fundamentalist Sunni movement. Shiites are 22 points more likely than Afghan Sunnis to call the Taliban the country's biggest threat -- and concomitantly 26 points more apt to call the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban five years ago a "very good" thing for the country.

Methodology

This survey was conducted for ABC News and the BBC World Service by Charney Research of New York, with field work by the Afghan Center for Social and Opinion Research in Kabul. Interviews were conducted in person, in Dari or Pashto, among a random national sample of 1,036 Afghan adults from Oct. 14-19, 2006. The results have a 3.5-point error margin.

For details about the methodology, click here.

For a pdf version of the report with full questionnaire and results, click here.

For more ABC News polls in our Poll Vault, click here.

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