Only 25 percent Kandahar residents feel safe with Karzai Government

Hamid KarzaiKandahar, Feb. 19 : Only 25 percent of residents of Kandahar feel secure under the Hamid Karzai Government, as against last year's 55 percent, a top Canadian commander has claimed.

"People''s sense of security has absolutely plummeted," Brigadier-General Denis Thompson said while speaking at the end of his nine-month duty-tour.

Thomson cited regular polls conducted by the military in Kandahar since March 2007, but the results were previously kept secret, The Guardian reported.

Most Kandahar residents prefer a government headed by Karzai rather than the Taliban. About 55 per cent of respondents felt relatively secure when asked in 2007, but that number has fallen to about 25 per cent in the latest survey, Thomson said.

"I know this is an incredible figure, but it says 70 per cent in these surveys. Now, one could be immediately skeptical, but the fact that it''s come out in six consecutive surveys tells me there''s something to it," the commander said.

Thompson said the present Afghan Government's popularity is deteriorating, while 15-20 of the percent population voted in the Taliban's favor.

"When I say support, it''s a loose sort of term; it''s `Who do you see as your authority figure?''" the commander said. "What''s clear, though, is that despite both sides'' efforts, they haven''t done anything to change their popularity."

Poll documents reveal survey questions such as: "What are the three biggest problems facing the whole country of Afghanistan today?" and, "Are you satisfied with the provision of employment in your area?"

Each poll involved interviews with more than 1,200 people across Kandahar province, which gives the research a sampling error of 3.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The polls also revealed a dismal security condition in rural areas southwest of Kandahar.

"In those regions, by driving down the perceptions of security, you completely halt any kind of economic development. The other thing is, they [insurgents] shut the schools, the clinics, and nothing happens, because they''ve locked everything down, they''ve closed everything down," Thomson said.

But the commander remains hopeful that security conditions in Afghanistan would improve with the empowerment training and techniques of the Afghan police and army. (ANI)