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Obama offers Afghans hope amid despair

world Updated: Nov 01, 2008 08:21 IST
AFP
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Afghans are backing Barack Obama for US president in the hope he will rescue them from an ever-deadly extremist Islamic insurgency wracking their nation and dashing hopes for a better future.

The Democrat's pledges to strike militant bases in Pakistan, boost US troop levels and return the focus of the US "war on terror" to this region have outshone any impression Republican John McCain might have made.

"We like Obama because in his first speech he said he would defeat our enemies in Pakistan, the Taliban in Pakistan, that he will attack terrorists," said a Kabul money changer who would only give his name as Emal.

The 30-year-old said he knew little of McCain or his plans.

Afghans acknowledge that any new US president is not going to mean a radical departure from Washington's plans for Afghanistan.

But some believe McCain would be just too much like the outgoing President George W Bush.

"He is just as old as Bush," said Masihullah Amin, 32, the owner of a successful construction company in Kabul. "The current Bush policy in Afghanistan seems to me a failed policy."

He said Obama was "from the young generation and he has a young mind".

"He is decisive and decisions will bring solutions for the current situation in Afghanistan," he told AFP.

Seven years after the austere Taliban regime was driven out by a US-led invasion, Afghans are increasingly pessimistic about the future, with a poll by The Asia Foundation saying this week almost two thirds do not believe the country is moving in the right direction.