The Senlis Council will release its latest report later this week. The Toronto Star got a preview of it:
the Senlis Council mobilized its staff of 50 to conduct 1,000 interviews across the country, including 250 in and around Kandahar City. Among the findings:
- Armed Taliban checkpoints are becoming more commonplace in areas throughout the province, with a particularly high concentration of Taliban fighters in control of the town of Khakrez, northwest of Kandahar City, since September. Survey respondents also said Taliban recruiters have infiltrated refugee camps in the region.
- Afghan residents and shopkeepers have all but evacuated the once bustling road to Lashkar Gar, a key artery leading to neighbouring Helmand province, citing fears of Taliban ambush.
- Afghan workers displaced by Taliban encroachment have spilled into Kandahar City in search of day labour, increasing tensions by driving wages down. The current rate for day labour in the area is less than 180 Afghanis, about $3.50 Canadian.
- Worsening relations between rival Pashtun tribes have contributed to a further weakening of Karzai's standing in his home province, with some sub-tribes feeling under-represented in the government.
- Afghan poll respondents say many families have been terrorized into contributing to both ends of the struggle, placing one son with the Afghan National Army and another with the Taliban.
- The Taliban is gaining grassroots political support by cleverly exploiting Afghan anger over civilian casualty counts throughout southern Afghanistan.