WOMEN – In another area, this poll finds continued broad support for women's rights, which were denied under the Taliban. Ninety-two percent support girls' schools and 91 percent favor women voting – near-unanimous majorities. Fewer but still most support women working outside the home, 77 percent; or holding government office, 69 percent.
Support for women working or holding office is about 20 points lower among Pashtuns, who predominate in the South and East, than among less-conservative Tajiks. It's lower among men (especially rural men) than among women. And it's far lower in the South than in the rest of Afghanistan.
But tensions in the South extend even to this issue – in this case, between men and women. Just 41 percent of men there say women should be able to hold jobs outside the home; among women that jumps to 66 percent. And just 36 percent of men in the South favor women holding political office. Among women themselves, it's 60 percent.
REGIONS and POLICY – A striking factor across all these results is the wide range of concerns and priorities in regions and individual provinces of Afghanistan. While overall national trends are telling in terms of the broad course of public views, the differences by locale suggest policymakers will need flexible approaches.
In the country's Northeast, for example, the economy outstrips security as the main complaint by more than a 2-1 margin; in the South, it's security by 3-1. Clean water's an issue in the Northwest, far less so in the East. Medical care's much better-rated in the North than in the southern provinces. Eighty-five percent in Kabul have electricity – but in neighboring Wardak, just 13 percent. And the affordability of food is a particular problem in far-flung places such as Logar, Herat, and Balkh; far less so in some other, equally scattered, provinces.
Whatever the differences, the two main themes stand out: Security and the promise of redevelopment in creating economic opportunity. When Afghans are asked the single biggest problem facing their country overall, these two – security and the economy – run about evenly, and far outstrip all others.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/BBC/ARD poll is based on in-person interviews with a random national sample of 1,534 Afghan adults from Dec. 30, 2008 to Jan. 12, 2009. The results have a 2.5-point error margin. Field work by the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research in Kabul, a subsidiary of D3 Systems Inc. of Vienna, Va.
Click here for details on the survey methodology, here for charts on the results, here for photos from the field and here for a summary of all polls in ABC's ongoing "Where Things Stand" series in Iraq and Afghanistan.