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Government winning public support for Afghan war
British public support for the war on Afghanistan has risen over the past two years, as Afghan political leaders call for negotiations with the Taliban.
In an ICM/BBC poll of 1,002 adults taken on 12-13 March, 40% of Britons expressed support for military operations in Afghanistan. This figure was up 9% from 31% in a September 2006 poll. However, opposition still outnumbers support though it is down from 53% to 48%.
Interestingly, most of the increase in support came from the 18-34 age group. An ICM spokesperson suggested that footage of prince Harry's front-line deployment to Afghanistan had “brought the war to life.”
The prince was deployed to the front line in Afghanistan for 10 weeks, under a media embargo. However, after the online Drudge Report broke the story on 28 February, the prince was returned to the UK.
Asked to choose from a range of options the main reasons for the war, 71% of poll respondents said it was part of the global fight against al-Qaeda, 63% said it was to help the Afghans fight the Taliban and 44% said it was to stop the flow of drugs.
US plans for aerial spraying of Afghanistan's opium poppy crop have so far not materialised.
Meanwhile, Gulab Mangal, governor of the violence-wracked “poppy belt” province of Helmand, has promised to hold face-to-face talks with Taliban fighters, insisting that he has the support of president Karzai for this venture.
Mangal told journalists that one of his first tasks would be to set up traditional Afghan jirgas (meetings) with “second and third-tier” fighters.