The Asia Foundation Releases Policy Recommendations Based on Largest Public Opinion...

Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:01am EST

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The Asia Foundation Releases Policy Recommendations Based on Largest Public
Opinion Survey Ever Conducted in Afghanistan
Six Essays Analyze Afghan Perceptions on Democratic Values, Political
Progress, Security and Women's Advancement

KABUL, Afghanistan and SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, The
Asia Foundation released "State Building, Security, and Social Change in
Afghanistan: Reflections on a Survey of the Afghan People," a collection of
six essays that analyze in-depth the findings of the largest public opinion
survey ever conducted in Afghanistan. The survey, "Afghanistan in 2008: A
Survey of the Afghan People," was preceded by similar surveys in 2004, 2006,
and 2007. All essays in this analytical volume inform the Afghanistan policy
debate currently under way. In doing so, they temper subjective views of the
complex governance environment of Afghanistan with perspective and offer
policy advice with a long-term view.
    The volume, in addition to the 2008 Afghan public opinion poll on which it
is based, can be downloaded in its entirety at http://www.asiafoundation.org.
    To interpret the 2008 survey's findings, The Asia Foundation brought
together nine expert analysts on political, social, and developmental issues
in Afghanistan and the region: RAND Political Scientist Seth Jones; Australian
National University Professor William Maley; University of California (Irvine)
Professor Russell Dalton; New School Professor Sanjay Ruparelia; Asia
Foundation technical consultants Sudhindra Sharma and Pawan Sen; and Asia
Foundation advisors Najla Ayubi, Harjot Kaur, and Ruth Rennie.
    Through careful study and interpretation of data collected for the 2008
survey, these analysts identified long-term trends and their implications for
Afghanistan's future. For instance, more Afghans now understand democracy in
terms of fundamental political rights, feel politically efficacious, and
believe that democracy is compatible with Islam. Yet these gains in social
attitudes are mitigated by an erosion of public confidence in democracy, and
increasing dissatisfaction with the way it is working in Afghanistan, largely
caused by the failure of government institutions to provide effective
responses to people's needs for security, and economic and social development.
    Collectively, the six essays point to a set of nested priorities for the
Afghan government and the international community.  In the near-term: improved
security, accompanied by the continued reinforcement of the capacity of Afghan
government institutions to deliver justice, democratic representation, and
economic and social development. Alongside this, continued investment must be
made in fostering positive change in social attitudes through education and
increased citizen participation in governance and development. The experts
agree that building sustainable partnerships between government and Afghan
communities lies at the heart of the challenge of state building in
Afghanistan.
    Financial support for this publication came from the U.S. Agency for
International Development. The views of the contributors to this volume do not
reflect the views of The Asia Foundation or of the U.S. Agency for
International Development.
    About The Asia Foundation in Afghanistan
    The Asia Foundation's Kabul office was re-established in February 2002 to
launch programs in areas vital to the political, social, economic, and
intellectual development of post-Taliban Afghanistan. Since then, the
Foundation's Kabul office has assisted Afghans in their efforts to rebuild the
country through the establishment of an interim government, the development of
a new constitution, and the provision of support to implement national voter
registration, civic education, media monitoring, and technical planning for
the 2004 Presidential and 2005 National Assembly and Provincial Council
elections. Since these elections, the Foundation has also been providing
long-term critical support to key institutions within the executive branch of
government at the central level. Other Foundation programs have focused on
creating educational and training opportunities for women and girls,
supporting development of higher education, and promoting exchanges to foster
improved international relations.
    About The Asia Foundation
    The Asia Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental organization
committed to the development of a peaceful, prosperous, just, and open
Asia-Pacific region. The Foundation supports programs in Asia that help
improve governance, law, and civil society; women's empowerment; economic
reform and development; and international relations. Drawing on more than 50
years of experience in Asia, the Foundation collaborates with private and
public partners to support leadership and institutional development,
exchanges, and policy research.
    With a network of 17 offices throughout Asia, an office in Washington,
D.C., and its headquarters in San Francisco, the Foundation addresses these
issues on both a country and regional level. In 2007, the Foundation provided
more than $68 million in program support and distributed 974,000 books and
educational materials valued at $33 million throughout Asia.    For more
information, please visit http://www.asiafoundation.org.

     Contact:
     In Kabul: George Varughese
     gvarughese@asiafound.org; +93(0)799.321344, +93(0)700.207350

     In San Francisco: Amy Ovalle
     aovalle@asiafound.org; 415.533.7559

     In Washington & New York: Katherine Brown
     kbrown@asiafound.org; 202.271.1751

SOURCE  The Asia Foundation

Kabul, George Varughese, +93(0)799.321344, +93(0)700.207350,
gvarughese@asiafound.org, or San Francisco, Amy Ovalle, +1-415-533-7559,
aovalle@asiafound.org, or Washington & New York, Katherine Brown,
+1-202-271-1751, kbrown@asiafound.org, all of The Asia Foundation
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