According to recent reports, Afghanistan faces its worst humanitarian crisis since the Taliban took power last year. Recent reports show that unemployment and poverty are at an unprecedented level. In addition, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has stated recently that more than half of Afghanistan’s populace is dependent on humanitarian aid. The situation has been exacerbated by natural calamities. Women’s rights are also being eroded. The Taliban reaffirmed that women would have almost no rights. The humanitarian aid is also difficult to get to the needy, which exacerbates the already dire situation, according Professor Dheeraj Sharma, director of the Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak, India, Nargis Nhan, former Minister of Mines, Petroleum and Industries, Afghanistan, and Shahmahmood MIakhel, former Governor of Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.
In order to gain a better understanding of the Afghan people, a survey has been conducted to understand their perceptions about their past, their current situation, and their aspirations for the future. A total of 2,003 answers were collected using the snowball sampling technique in March, April, and May 2022. The online survey was shared with former Afghan political leaders, local officials, and businesspeople. They then sent the survey to their friends and contacts via WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms. This data collection is limited to those with smart phones. It is reported that 90% have mobile communication, and many people are constantly searching for hotspots to access the internet. This makes the sample of the study representative. Appendix Table-I contains the detailed questionnaire for your reference.
Data analysis showed that 61% of respondents believe that their generation has better educational and healthcare facilities, infrastructure, than the previous one. It is a recognition of the development activities that have been carried out over the last two decades with the help of the United Nations, and other countries. 78% of respondents, however, believe that the erstwhile Afghanistan Government (prior the Taliban invasion), was corrupt and the full extent of aid did not reach the needy. Interesting to note, 72% of respondents also believe that local leaders were corrupted and that this led to the Taliban taking over. One can therefore conclude that the dissatisfaction amongst the people is not only due to depravity, but also because of mismanagement of aid. The results of the poll show that 78% believe that the Taliban, and their conduits, received a large portion of foreign aid from neighbouring countries. However, the Afghan people did not. The majority of Afghans think that foreign aid was mismanaged, and used to topple the government elected by the Afghan people.
A staggering number (83%) of respondents believe that the Taliban were able to easily take over Afghanistan because Pakistan supported them. Moreover, 67% believe that China also provided tacit support for the Taliban. Over 67% of respondents believe that the United States’ mistimed, mismanaged departure from Afghanistan gave Pakistan and China an opportunity to promote the Taliban taking over Afghanistan.
The survey also revealed that the legitimacy of Taliban is a key issue. Over 56% respondents from Afghanistan stated that Taliban members were not part of their group and that they were not real Afghans. The survey results show that 61% have “absolutely zero trust” in the Taliban. It is also important to note that 67% reported that they did not support the Taliban taking over Afghanistan.
The survey results also indicate the direction Afghanistan should take. The data collected by this study shows that majority of Afghans (56%) want to elect their leaders. Explicitly majority of Afghans (67%), have expressed their willingness to accept United Nations’ intervention in order to solve the current crisis. Unambiguously, Afghans think that India and the United States are essential to the stability and development of Afghanistan. India was chosen by 69% of respondents as Afghanistan’s “best friend country.” This choice is a reflection of India’s long-standing policy of being generous and considerate towards Afghanistan. The USA is ranked second (22%) with the same number of respondents still believing that US infrastructure development was a major contribution to Afghanistan. Pakistan (10%) is ranked second, followed by Russia (9%), Saudi Arabia (6%) and China (4%) on the list of friends. Nearly 44% believe that the current Taliban will end up better than their predecessors because the media is paying more attention to what they do and the world has become more interconnected. They also believe that the intergenerational gap that exists between the younger generation and the older Taliban regime is the main reason why they think the current Taliban regime will be better than the previous one.
In light of the current crisis in Afghanistan where food, clothing, and other necessities are scarce, the survey asked respondents to rate the seven essential commodities from most important to least important. The respondents were asked to rank food, water and shelter as well as medicine, clothing, beddings and other necessities. The majority of respondents chose food and water to be the’most important’ items. Shelter, medicine, clothes, and clothing were then chosen by the rest. The ‘least favourite’ items were beddings and other necessities. Food and water being the’most preferable’ items shows how desperate people in Afghanistan are for these basic commodities. There is a severe shortage of clean water and food in Afghanistan.
The survey results show that Afghans are aware that their situation is worse than ever before. 83% of respondents think that the Taliban are corrupt and 67% believe that conditions will worsen in the future under the Taliban regime, if democracy in any form is not restored. It is therefore suggested that the international community come together to offer humanitarian assistance via special vehicles, so that the aid reaches those in need and not corrupt officials.
* View expressed is personal
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