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Voter Voices

As part of its election coverage plan, Pajhwok Afghan News is interviewing residents of all 34 provinces. Members of different age groups will be asked basic questions, such as whether they will participate in the August 20 presidential and provincial council polls, what they want the government to do and what their objections to official policies are.

PAN conducted voter interviews in four districts including the provincial capital of the western province, where the same queries were put to seven residents of different backgrounds. Herat province, bordering Iran, is the only industrialised area of Afghanistan. Over the last seven years, about 300 factories have been set up – most of them in Herat Industrial Park, according to Toryalay Ghausi, deputy head of the provincial association of industrialists.

 
In Uruzgan, peace and water are most important
Date: 19/08/2009

Restoration of peace, alleviation of poverty and construction of water dams are on top of the list for the people of the central Uruzgan province.

The province having six districts is located 670 kilometres south of the central capital Kabul. Its provincial council has nine seats with three of them for women.

According to the election commission, 26 candidates have registered their names for the provincial council seats. Only two of them are women.

Roadside bomb blasts, rockets and direct attacks and operations by foreign troops are the key problems faced by the people of this province. However, they said they want to participate in the polls and elect their president and members of the provincial council.

This report is prepared on the basis of interviews with 10 people from five districts and the provincial capital. Two of the interviewees are women.

 

A mother: No more war

Khiyal Bibi, 55, resident of Tori village of the provincial capital of Tirinkot, lost six sons in the wars, and says there must be an end to the fighting now.

She says her sons were killed in different regimes. She wants the next president to ensure peace so that people could earn a livelihood for themselves and their families.

Khiyal Bibi says the number of Taliban had increased in her area. She says: "I lost all my family members and this is why I hate war."

She knows only Hamid Karzai among the 37 presidential canddiates. About the reason that only two women are running for three seats in the province, she says women in Uruzgan are afraid of the Taliban.

She says even men don't dare to go out of the city, so how can women come forward to register themselves as candidates for the provincial council?

 

Driver: People should be consulted in appointments

Din Muhammad, a resident of Chora district, is a driver. He believes one of the reasons for the infamy of the present government was the appointment of governors and district chiefs without consultation with the people.

If governor and district chiefs are appointed by choice of people, this will help improve the situation as people will cooperate with the government, he said.

He termed the reconstruction works completed in the past seven years “ineffective” and accused the district chiefs and police chiefs of taking bribes from contractors of projects.

 

Haji Muhammad Wali: Confidence in election

Resident of Deh Rahod district Haji Muhammad Wali is confident of the upcoming polls. He says they will be held and every vote will be counted.

He is not satisfied with living conditions in the past five years, and still is determined to take part in the elections.

According to him, the reason behind the poor quality of work is involvement of governors and district chiefs in widespread corruption.

His first demand from the next president is to ensure peace. Secondly, schools and hospitals should be constructed and clean drinking water should be provided to people, he said.

 

A seamstress: Will vote despite threats

Bobo, 35, resident of Tori village of Tirinkot, says security was the major issue that must be addressed.

Bobo was trained by the Women Affairs Department in sewing. She was then given a sewing machine and other necessary items to start working.

But now she is faced with Taliban threats. She says Taliban warned her to stop working or be killed. However, she is the head of her family and compelled to have a job.

Bobo says: "Each day I fear death by a Taliban bullet."

Despite all threats, she is determined to take part in voting for both the provincial council and president.

About participation in the provincial council elections, she said: "I want to help push my colleague to the provincial council to work for us."

 

Farmer: Sharia should be implemented

Fifty-year-old Muhammad Qasar is a resident of Tirinkot. He believes the government cannot succeed in any sector unless sharia is implemented in the country.

He hoped the next president would punish each and every criminal in line with sharia. For example, he says, the hands of a thief should be chopped off publicly to teach a lesson to other people.

He says voting is important to elect the president and this is why he is using his vote. At the same time, he says no reconstruction work has been done in his area over the past five years.

Three years ago, work was launched on construction of a bridge, but it has not been completed so far.

 

Government official: Water resources should be tapped

Janan Aka is resident of Khas Uruzgan district. He wants the government to tap the water resources after eradicating corruption.

Aka says the province had a lot of water resources, but they do not benefit the people. Not a single water project has been started in the village, says Aka.

He suggests that government should construct dams to provide irrigation water for farmers as well as generate electricity.

Aka says he does not participate in the presidential election because the president is nominated by foreigners. However, he is participating in the provincial council elections. He says he will vote for a candidate whom he knows.

 

Young man: Tribal balance in government

Khyber Zapand, resident of Chinarto district, says he will vote if there is peace. He had studied up to 12th class. Zapand criticised the government and said nothing had been done for Uruzgan in the past.

The province does not have a single park where people can refresh themselves, says the student.

He wants the next president to provide equal shares to all tribes in the government. He believes non-participation of the tribes in government was the reason for the present security situation and if left unaddressed, it will continue.

He said little or nothing had been done in his village in terms of reconstruction by the government. Only two small bridges and a few wells have been dug in his village during the past few years.

 

Seminaries and schools should be constructed

Inamullah, resident of Charchino district, says he hopes the next president would focus on education and training in the country and will construct madrassas and schools.

He says the literacy rate is very low in the country because there are so few schools and madrassas. He also demanded construction of a hospital to treat the drug addicts, as many youths are drug addicts in the province.

About importance of votes, he says: "The president is elected with our votes. I don't agree that the United States is nominating the president."

 

Government official: Foreigners do not nominate president

Resident of the remote Garmavi village of Tirinkot Sher Muhammad Iqbal is working in the communication department. He says insecurity and no reconstruction are the main problems.

His demand from the next president is to make only those pledges to the people which he can fulfill.

He is participating in the elections and does not believe that the president is nominated by the United States. If it was so, the candidates would not spend so much on election campaign, he argued.

Iqbal added: "Their (candidates') struggle shows that president is elected by the people and not America. This is propaganda."

 

Ahmad Umeed Khpalwak

 


Kunduz people under siege but ready to vote
Date: 17/08/2009

Despite their grievances against the incumbent government, the people of Kunduz are ready to cast their votes in the upcoming presidential elections. Lack of security and no enforcement of the law are their biggest problems.

This northern province is located around 340 kilometres from the central capital Kabul and adjoins the border with the Central Asian state of Tajikistan.

The province has six districts. The number of seats in the provincial council is 15 with four of those reserved for women.

People are threatened by the roadside bombings, presence of Taliban, suicide attacks, operations by local and foreign troops and collection of Zakat (Islamic charity) by some Taliban groups.

This report was prepared on the basis of interviews with nine people, two of them women, from four districts and the provincial capital.

 

Elder: Government must be effective

Arbab Mir Ghausuddin, resident of Mangini village of Char Dara district, says some public works have been completed during the five-year rule of the present government. He said schools have been constructed, roads paved and his son is studying at a university: “All those are positive changes in our lives.”

However, the elder said security situation had deteriorated over the past year. His first demand from the next president is restoration of peace in the province. Reconstruction works and service to people are the next.

He says he will participate in the elections only when a polling station is established in his own village. Asked about the importance of election, he said he wanted to vote to elect a noble person.

 

Shopkeeper: Government offices are unfriendly

Painda Muhammad, 28, is resident of the fourth police station district of Kunduz City. He sees no change in his life in the past five years.

He knows only four of the 37 presidential candidates.

He is happy with the security situation in Kunduz City, but criticised the widespread corruption. He had obtained a voter registration card but he is doubtful about his voting. “I did not decide so far whether to vote or not, and for whom to vote. But when I hear about the importance of elections, then I say I must vote.”

 

Driver: Hiding his voter card

Forty-year-old Muhammad Saeed is a driver, and a resident of Basoos village of Char Darra district. He sees positive changes in his life over the past five years. His son is employee in an NGO.

He is not sure about the security situation. Life has improved, on the one hand, but other problems also emerged. “No one is allowing us to live in peace,” said the driver.

He says he cannot go into his district for fear of the Taliban. They have obtained registration cards in the centre of the district as those were not distributed in the villages.

The driver says he keeps his registration card hidden in his house and sometimes the Taliban even search the drivers of passenger vehicles.

His foremost demand from the president is restoration of peace and provision of employment.

 

Prayer leader: More madrasas needed

Abdul Ghafoor, 30, is prayer leader at Qarlaq village of the Dasht-e-Archi district for the past four years. “I have seen no change in my life in the past years and my problems are increasing day by day,” said the mullah.

The major problem is that the law is not enforced, he adds.

“We have law, but no one acts on it. A man is killed and no one asks about him. A thief is looting a house and there is no one to ask. There must be a system to ask all those people and punish the criminal,” said the prayer leader.

The election is a good process, he said. He wants to vote for a true Muslim who implements the law. He says he wants this person to focus on religious seminaries and mosques and root out moral corruption.

He is not happy with the five years of rule by President Karzai. He says if the government constructs madrasas and establishes other religious institutions, the country will not be facing such a situation as it is now.

When Afghan Taliban study in Afghan madressas, then they would never destroy their own country, he said.

 

Rural woman: What is election?

Nafsa, 35, is living in Zulam Abad village of Qala-e-Zaal district. She is a widow and mother of seven. She does not know about the elections.

“My father and children are everything for me. I heard about elections, but don’t know what is this,” said the woman, who had come to Kunduz city along with her father for medical help.

Nafsa says the lack of paved roads is the major problem of her area. She wants the next president to pave the roads and help the poor.

  

Student: Even one vote is of high value

Muhammad Sardar, 24, is a resident of the fourth police district of Kunduz city. He is a fourth year student at Nangarhar University.

He said construction of schools, universities, roads, and health clinics are the plus points of the present government.  Also, Afghanistan has established relationship with several countries in the past five years, he said.

He is waiting for election day to use his right to vote. He says even a single vote has its importance as it decides the future of the country.

He said although the security situation has deteriorated, transparent elections can bring improvement.

 

Government official: Present government an improvement

Rahmatullah Hamnawa, 40, is resident of Khan Abad district and works in the information and culture department of the province. He says the five-year rule of the present government was the best for all Afghans.

He has his voter registration card and wants to use his right to vote. “As a vote has its importance, so I have selected one of the candidates and I shall vote for him.”

According to him, lack of security is the biggest problem of the people. When there is no peace, people cannot live with ease even if everything else is available to them, said the official.

He also asks for an increase in salaries of government officials.

 

Provincial councilwoman: No chance for women politicians

Dr. Habiba Irfan, 45, is member of the provincial council in Kunduz. She is living in Kunduz City. She said the five-year rule of the present government of no use. She thinks that there is no proper system of governance in the country.

Poverty, violence and security problems are increasing day by day, said the representative. She said the government should ensure peace and implement the law when it claims to do so.

Dr. Irfan says she has a voter registration card and will take part in the elections and will vote for a person who is loyal to the country.

According to her, restoration of security is the biggest challenge in her area.

Women cannot live in cities and even inside their houses, she said. Unless there is peace, women could not become politically active.

She said enforcement of the law and administrative corruption were the other major problems of this province.

“I avoided contesting the elections because of the non-enforcement of the law and administrative corruption,” she said.

“It is also because that no one acted upon the plans that I presented in the past.”

 

 Abdul Mateen Sarfaraz

 


Demands, views and problems of Ghazni people
Date: 17/08/2009

People in the central Ghazni province are fed up with unemployment and lawlessness. They're ready to vote, saying the government must take steps to ensure peace and provide jobs to them.

Located some 150 kilometres south of Kabul, Ghazni province consists of 18 districts. The province has 19 seats in the provincial council. Five of them are reserved for women.

A total of 93 candidates are in the field for the 19 seats. Nine of them are women.

Nawa is one of the 18 districts which was captured by Taliban a year ago and is still under their control.

The following report was prepared last week on the basis of interviews with two women and six men from four districts and the provincial capital of Ghazni City.

 

Student of Political Science: Many may not vote

Pakhtana, 21, resident of Muqur district, presently studying at the Political Science department of Nangarhar University, says she will vote for a candidate working for peace and security in the country.

The first problem of her area is insecurity. Many people in the province may not vote for this reason, she believes.

According to Pakhtana, the second problem was lack of health facilities. People take their patients to the provincial capital as no health facilities are available in the districts.

Referring to the recent situation, she fears the election may not be secure. Asked about her demand from the future president, she says, “Restoration of peace is on top.”

She said two schools, one for girls and another for boys, had been constructed in her village during the current government. More smaller works like this have also been completed there.

 

Kuchi: My life has improved, but security deteriorated

Muhammad Gul Kuchi is the representative of Kuchis in Ghazni. He lives in a village west of the city. He said he had no job eight years ago but he worked at several places during this period. He said his life had also improved in these years.

Kuchi, who is eager to use his vote, said insecurity was the biggest problem of his area. There are also some problems faced particularly by Kuchis. He complained about lack of meadows for their animals and lack of health care.

Peace and reconciliation is his first demand from the next president.

 

Teacher: Insecurity is the biggest problem

Waliullah, 34, resident of Qarabagh district, is teacher at a middle school for the past five years.

He was doing a labour job in Pakistan six years ago, but now is teaching at a school.

He knows a few of the candidates and wants to vote for a person who can work for peace and security.

According to him, the first problem of his area is insecurity followed by unemployment among youth. He wants to participate in the presidential and provincial council elections but only when he does not have to risk his life to do it.

His foremost demand from the president is restoration of peace and job opportunities for the people. He said a road had been paved in his area and some water provision systems constructed in the past five years.

 

Dilip Singh: Elect candidate who can serve masses

Dilip Singh, 44, resident of Ghazni City and representative of Sikh community in Ghazni, says his life has improved as compared to the past. He was a candidate for the provincial council in previous elections but was not elected.

He said the problems are there because of the security problems. He considers security as the first problem. One can’t live with ease when there is no peace, says Dilip Sing.

He is taking part in the provincial council and presidential elections and wants to vote for those who are loyal to the country and the people.

According to Dilip Singh, the far-off districts are dangerous and people may face problems in casting their votes. He is happy with the present government as a temple was constructed for his community members and a school was also built during the same period.

 

Mother: Our life has improved

Fatima, 35, resident of Waghaz district, says she learned how to prepare pickles and other food items in a course offered by the women's affairs department about a year ago. Mother of six, Fatima says she is happy with her earnings by preparing pickle and selling them. 

She does not have much information about the candidates, but says she will participate in the elections and use her vote after consultation with her husband and children.

At the same time, she is scared of the increasing security problems. Fatima says: “I shall vote only when there is peace because I afraid of fighting.”

She says the foremost problem is lack of security. Also, she said, roads and schools should also be constructed.

 

Shopkeeper: Wants a candidate whose hands are clean

Fareed, 26, has a shop in Ghazni City, and he asks for peace in the country. People can arrange the rest of things for themselves when there is peace, he says.

Fareed knows only nine of the 37 presidential hopefuls. He says, “I shall vote for a candidate who is not involved in killing of innocent people.”

According to Fareed, lack of security is the first problem of every individual. He said the second problem was poverty among people which must be addressed.

 

Student: Failed to get registration card

Nineteen-year-old Jameel is a resident of Andar district. He is student of 11th class at a school.

He could not get a voter's registration card for the elections because of insecurity.

He knows only five of the 37 presidential contenders. He asks the people to vote for a candidate who can serve society.

According to Jameel, the first problem of his area is lack of security followed by lack of schools in the far-off areas.

He wants the next president to pay attention to education and literacy, ensure peace and hold talks with the opponents.

He said the water system had been constructed in his village during the current government. Besides, karez (canals) have also been constructed in the area.

 

Beggar: Wants government help

Forty-year-old Shah Muhammad is resident of Ghazni City and stayed both in Iran and Pakistan as a refugee. Now he is a beggar, and he says “I should be supported.”

He says the first problem was poverty and the government should focus on condition of poor.

He said no attention had been paid to his life in the past five years. Only some special people benefited from the assistance given to the country or the province, he said.

 

Sher Ahmad Haidar

 


Ghor residents want schools, jobs and health clinics
Date: 15/08/2009

Chighchiran (PAN), 13 August 2009: People in western Ghor province vow to participate in the upcoming elections to help address their challenges, including unemployment, insufficient schools and lack of health services.

 

Located 980 kilometers from Kabul, mountainous Ghor province has nine districts.

This report was based on interviews conducted with three women and six men from four districts and the capital of the province.

 

There are fifteen seats in Ghor provincial council with four of them allocated for the female members; almost 75 people including six women are running for the provincial seats.

 

Village woman: No schools and health clinics

Negina, 31, from Dehmard village of Dawlatyar district of the province, has studied to seventh grade, and she criticized the lack of schools and the educational challenges in the area.

 

She complained that the school in their village has no proper building; children are studying under tents where they get sick and dehydrated because of the weather.

 

There is only one health clinic in the village where she lives; she said the clinic had no medicine and there was only one doctor who is often absent.

 

She is persuading most of the women in the area to cast their votes and participate in the upcoming elections.

 

"All women should participate in the elections so they can elect a just, honest and Muslim president who respects women's rights and their demands," she said.

Driver: Police take bribes

Mohammad Nasim, 25, from Dolina district of the province, earns his living driving a passenger bus. He said his life had been worsening due to the increasing prices of food and insufficient income.

 

The road in their area is poor, so his vehicle breaks down a lot and he has to spend his income in fixing it.

 

He complained that police checkposts take money from the drivers under different pretexts.

 

Nasim had gone to the polling center in the last election, however this time he is not ready to cast his vote: "Voting in the last elections didn’t bring about any positive changes in my life."

 

Government employee: Low salaries

Muhammad Sardar Amiri, 34, from Dahane-Kasi in the provincial capital Chighchiran, said there was no employment five years ago, but currently there are employment opportunities in the governmental institutions.

However, he said, “the salary is meager and can't suffice” to cover basic expenses.

 

This government employee said the roads heading to the villages were not paved.

 

When asked why he wants to participate in the upcoming elections, he said: "To bring about a positive change, healthy administration and clear of corruption."

 

In the past five years, the government made no efforts for reconstruction in their province, he added.

Illiterate woman: Afraid of violence

Gul Feroza, 42, from Badgah village of provincial capital Chighchiran, said no positive changes have come in her life in the past five years. She is afraid that unless the election goes as expected, war will erupt.

When asked if she will participate in the elections, Feroza replied: "No, because I fear the situation on Election Day may turn violent."

She asks that the next president construct roads, schools and bridges in their village and sweep out the Taliban from the areas where they have disrupted education.

Young man: Life has improved

Noor Agha, 20, from Chighchiran, has studied through 12th grade. He said he is satisfied with the current administration. "There are schools in our village and the children are going to school," he said. 

Noor Agha, who knows seven of the presidential candidates by name, said he choose the person who envisions a good plan for future and could avoid corruption.

Under the current government, “the schools for the girl have opened and the girls can learn despite the fact that there are no proper school building, professional teachers and sufficient schools," he said.

“I want security and reconstruction from the upcoming president,” he said.

Education director: Teachers are not professional

Nizamuddin Noori, 50-year-old resident of Teura district and education department director of the district, said the salary of the teachers is meager and so the professional teachers with higher education degrees don’t intend to serve as teachers.

Complaining about the lack of textbooks, proper school buildings, health clinics and paved roads, Noori said he will vote for a president who has plan for economic development and infrastructure.

A number of development projects including wells, protection walls and roads through the National Solidarity Program of Rural Rehabilitation and Development Ministry have been implemented in their village, he said.

Head of Shopkeepers Union: Business development must be encouraged

Nazar Mohammad, a resident of Chighchiran, said his live had improved compared to five years ago - but the government didn’t help this change, he promoted his own business, he said.

He will not participate in the elections because he believes votes do not count, that the support of foreigners elects the next president.

Nazar Mohammad listed the lack of paved roads, electricity, and drinking water, as well as poverty and unemployment, as major challenges in their area. He added: "Unemployment and poverty have increased and the price of food rises on a daily basis; people can't afford basic foods."

His first demand from the next president will be establishment of fair and corruption free government, Nazar Mohammad concluded.

Worker: There has been no positive change in my life

Muhammad Qurban, 29, a resident of Charsada district, said he labored in Iran five years ago and still works as laborer in this country.

If employment could be found, no one would leave Afghanistan, because being abroad has a cost, he said.

He complained that there are no paved roads, health clinics and jobs in his area. 

People have to walk for three hours to get from the village to district center, he said.

He has the voter registration card, but said there is no polling station in their village and so he cannot participate in the elections.

Qurban dose not believe the slogans of the candidates and said they are chanting to attract votes and will not do anything practical when elected.

 Muhammad Hassan Hakimi


Samangan thirsty for water and begging for schools
Date: 15/08/2009

AIBAK: The people of Samangan want the next president to provide them clean drinking water and construct school buildings for children who are studying in tents or under trees.

The people of this province dig holes to store rain and snow water and then use it for drinking and other purposes. According to locals, the water level in Samangan is very low and people cannot dig deep wells without the assistance of the government.

As for schools, officials say the province has 219 schools, but only 81 of them have proper buildings. The province is located some 300 kilometres from Kabul and consists of six districts.

The provincial council of Samangan has nine seats. Of them, three have been reserved for women. Eighty people, including seven women, are among the candidates for the total nine seats in the province.

The above report is prepared on the basis of interviews with people the provincial capital and some districts. Four of the interviewees are women.

 

NGO worker: Impure water

Aqila, a 27-year-old woman from the provincial capital of Aibak, says, “We are drinking impure water of streams.” She is working in a nongovernmental organization.

Aqila says there are some 200 houses in her area. She says the impure water causes diseases.

She says she is taking part in the elections and wants the next president to ensure provision of clean drinking water to the people of Samanagan.

She says her financial condition has improved over the past few years and now has a job and is earning money.

 

Farmer: Land was captured

Muhammad Usman, 35, resident of the Shalo Kato village of Hazrat Sultan district, is taking part in the election to use his right to vote for betterment of the country.

Usman said, “My land was captured in Qazantoon Bajaq area by the powerful men during the era of jihad in 1978 and it is still controlled by those people.” He visited several courts, but to no avail. He wants the next president to help him get back his land.

About the performance of the present government, he said some schools had been constructed in his area and living conditions have improved. He knows only three of the 37 candidates.

 

Alia: Carrying water

Alia, 28, resident of Sarqina Uzbakia village of Hazrat Sultan district, is bringing water in a jar on her head from the river several kilometers away.

She is a housewife. Along with the problem of impure water, she also complains about unemployment. She says their men are going to other provinces and even to Kabul for jobs.

Eager to take part in the elections, Alia says the next president should address the problem of drinking water and unemployment in Samangan.

She is not happy with improvement in her life conditions in the past few years. However, she says, the security situation has been improved and her children are now at school.

 

Student: We have no university

Eighteen-year-old Nooria is studying at the Larghan higher secondary school in the provincial capital. She says she is taking part in the election to change the destiny of her country.

She says, “We have no university in Samangan and there is no arrangement” for her after completion of her education. She wants the next president to construct a university in the province.

 

Malaka: Election is of no use

The 39-year-old Malaka is a resident of Sarghani village of the provincial capital of Samangan. She is uneducated and a housewife. She is not taking part in the elections, believing that the president has already been chosen by the foreigners.

She complained about lack of clean drinking water. She says she has no expectations from the next president. “Anyone who becomes the king, does nothing for the people.”

She says they have gotten rid of the warlords during the present government and security situation has improved. She knows only Hamid Karzai among the candidates.

 

Farmer: No pure water

Muhammad Hakeem, 57, is a resident of Ravi Do Aab district, who wants a just president in the elections.

According to him, “Clean drinking water is the big problem.” He says they were using water of streams which are full of smell and impurities.

The need for road construction and construction of schools are other problems. He demanded construction of a road leading to his village and district.

 

Student: No religious seminaries

Nineteen-year-old Abdul Khaliq is resident Masoud village of Darra-e-Souf district. He says there are few mosques and madrasas in his district. He says the next president should construct mosques and provide clean drinking water to people.

He says security has been improved in the present government and children are going to schools.

 

Shopkeeper: Illegal checkpoints have stopped

Shafiullah, 38, is a resident of Alma village of Khurram and Sarbagh district. He is participating in the elections to change the destiny of the country.

Like others, he also complained about lack of clean drinking water.

He said financial conditions of people have been improved in the past few years. He is happy that the barricades of warlords and armed men along the road had been removed now.

 

Teacher: Security situation improved

Muhammad Nazeer, 51, is resident of Larghan district of the provincial capital. He is participating in the elections to bring change.

He said no irrigation and drinking water are the big problems of his area. He wants the next president to address those problems.

He said security situation had been improved as compared to the past.

 

Trader of dry fruit: Illegal forced taxes ended

Muhammad Kabeer, 48, is resident of Aira Ghali village of the provincial capital. He says armed groups were operating in the area and were extorting money from people. But he said the problem has stopped now because the armed groups of criminals have been stopped from doing this forced collection of money and crops.

He said the security situation had been improved in the past seven years. Life of people has also improved but lack of clean drinking water is still a problem.

 

Muhammad Barat

 

 


Weary of war, Helmand people still looking for answers
Date: 15/08/2009

LASHKARGAH: The war-wearied people of this southern province are fed up with the increasing insecurity and poverty. Some of them are ready to participate in the elections, but others say insecurity is keeping them from joining the process.

The province consists of 11 official and two non-official districts and is located some 650 kilometres south of the central capital Kabul.

The provincial council has 15 seats with four of them reserved for women. Five districts of the province were under the Taliban. Two of those have recently been cleared of militants as a result of the military operation there.

The below report was prepared on the basis of interviews of nine people from four districts. Two of them are women.

 

Driver: I shall vote in another district

Shafiullah, 29, a driver and a resident of Nadali district, said Taliban are present in his district and he will go to the capital, Lashkargar, to exercise his right to vote.

Shafiullah said people are fearful because of the fighting, and he also complained about small number of voting centres.

He said he had seen nothing more than killing and violence in his district during the reign of the present government. The Taliban had informed everyone not to come out of their houses on the day of election, he said. He wants the present government to put an end to fighting and alleviate poverty.

 

Unaware of the election

Siddiqullah, 35, resident of Shah Posta of Nauzad district, who had brought his ailing wife to a doctor in Lashkargah, said he did not know about the elections.

“What should we do about elections, when we have nothing to eat and our patients are getting no treatment and medicines?” said Siddiqullah.

He had voted in the previous elections but seems disappointed this time particularly because of the corruption in the governmental offices. He said the government decides cases on the basis of money.

He said the international aid is limited to announcements on radios, and there was nothing concrete on the ground. He wants the next president to focus on improvement of lives and solution to their problems.

 

Waiting for assistance: Sons are addicts because of joblessness

Jamila, resident of the Deh Adam Khan village of Grishk district, is an older woman who had come to Lashkargah because of fighting three years ago.

The woman was waiting outside the office of the Afghanistan Committee of the Red Cross (ARCS) for assistance. Asked about her participation in the elections, she said: “Our condition does not allow us to involve ourselves in such things.”

Mother of three daughters and four sons, Jamila said her sons had become addicts because of joblessness. She said one of them died last year using heroin, another is missing and a third was using hashish.

How they could take part in elections when the government cannot restore peace in Grishk and provide jobs to people to overcome poverty, she asked.

 

Haji Siddiq: All my family members will use their right to vote

A resident of Lashkargah, 60-year-old Haji Muhammad Siddiq, said has seven sons and several grandsons, and all of them would use their right to elect the president.

He said they were taking part in the elections because progress and prosperity of the country depends on an able and intelligent president.

He admitted that the present government has several weaknesses, but adds that all this depends on the people. “They [people] should use their vote to bring improvement by electing candidates who are better and efficient,” he said.

 

Mother of four: I will vote this time

Another 27-year-old woman, Jamila, who living in Lashkargah with her four children, said she was not allowed by her family to use her right to vote in the previous elections in 2004 - but she would definitely go to the polling station to vote this time.

She said she would support such a candidate who is kind-hearted, educated and provides jobs for women alongside men.

She said the present administration was full of corruption, fraud and nepotism and added that all the problems were created by those weaknesses.

 

Said Muhammad: Jobs should be provided to people

A former resident of Musa Kala district, Said Muhammad is living as refugee in Lashkargah. He is struggling to find a job and comes to the main square in the city daily looking for work.

The 22-year-old says he has a voter registration card and would vote in the presidential elections. Despite this, Said Muhammad believes that the next president will work under the orders of foreigners and would do whatever they want him to do.

He is fed up with unemployment and says thousands of jobless youth were present in each district of Helmand and this is why many of them have joined opponents of the government.

He wants the next president to ensure jobs for the people.

 

Ghayasullah: Taliban are keeping vigil on people

Resident of the Jah Anjeer village of Nadali district, the 32-year-old Ghayasullah said only people in the provincial capital would be able to vote.

Apart from that, even people in main towns of the rest of districts would not be able to cast their votes, he said.

Taliban are present in each district, and they would observe the people on the polling day and would warn them of death after that, he said. Because of that, Ghayasullah said, several of his village people have not obtained the registration cards.

He did not agree that the government and foreign troops have prepared ground for polling in Nadali, Nawa and Garmsir districts after operations. He said the security forces had captured some areas in the operations, but lost some others to the Taliban.

 

18-year-old: To vote is our right

Habibullah Qalamyar, 18, a resident of Grishk district, said he was participating in the upcoming elections because it was the right of the people to join the process and decide their future.

He says it depends on the people as to what kind of representatives they want to elect to address their problems and demands.

Security problems existed in many areas but the situation was quite satisfactory in the main town of Grishk, he said.

 

Health worker: Use of your vote is important

Asadullah Bawari, a 24-year-old resident of Lashkargah who is a health worker, says voting is the right of the people and they should use it. He said clean and upright people should be elected if people want to put an end to the existing problems in the country.

Insecurity was a big problem, he said, and his first demand from the next president is to bring peace and ensure security and then provide jobs to youth.

 

Zainullah Stanikzai

 

 

 


Earthquake victims of Nangarhar still living in tents
Date: 12/08/2009

JALALABAD: Dwellers of the earthquake-hit Sherzad district of the eastern Nangarhar province said they were participating in the upcoming presidential polls despite the fact that pledges made with them were not fulfilled by the government.

They believe that in using their right to vote, they would be able to elect a president who could pay attention to bringing a positive change in their lives.

Sherzad district is located 50 kilometres west of Jalalabad close to Speen Ghar. A strong earthquake hit the district in March of this year, killing 20 people, injuring 52 and destroying around 300 houses. Around 600 cattle also died in the earthquake.

People of the district are mostly poor because there is so little agricultural land. The government pledged reconstruction of houses and provision of food to the people, but nothing has been done so far.

This report about the upcoming presidential polls is prepared on the basis of interviews with eight dwellers of the district. One of them is a woman.

 

Soldier: We want shelter

Ismail, 22, resident of Mirgatkhel area, said his eight-year-old brother Samiullah was killed in the earthquake. Ismail, recently married, said his own house was destroyed.

He said the government officials made many pledges but none was fulfilled and his house was still collapsed.

Living with a 23-member family, Ismail says he managed to reconstruct only one room and rest of his family members are still living in tents. Only medicines were provided to them so far, he added.

His first demand from the future president is the provision of shelter.

 

Housewife: Construct my home

Shah Bibi, 48, resident of Koodikhel area, who lost two grandsons in the earthquake, said no one had supported them so far.

Living in a 13-member family, Shah Bibi says their house is still in the same condition as after the earthquake, and they are staying in tents.

She voted in the previous elections and is determined to vote this time as well, but wants to elect such a person to construct their demolished houses ahead of the winter season.

Shah Bibi's first demand from the future president is to provide shelter to them.

 

Farmer: Not participating in elections this time

Misri Khan, 40, resident of Koodikhel area, says his house was destroyed in the earthquake and two of his children were injured. He said his children are still in trauma.

He is not going to participate in the elections this time and it was because the pledges made with them in the past were not fulfilled – even after they stopped poppy production.

"I participated in the previous elections for the reconstruction of the country. But there is no change in our life and the lawlessness has further increased. No one is supporting us although we stopped growing poppies," said the farmer.

 

Tribal elder: Restore peace

Zabit Zahir, 62, a tribal elder and former jihadi commander, says promises made to them after the earthquake were not fulfilled. His own house was also destroyed.

According to the elder, the provincial government and some other organisations promised reconstruction of their houses, but nothing had been done so far.

He said President Karzai, during the commemoration of Mujahideen Day, directed the officials to spend the amount intended for celebrations to the earthquake and flood victims. However, it was not provided to the deserving people.

“No one pays attention to our life,” he said. “We had so many difficulties [passed hot and cold times] living in the tents.”

Zahir said he had participated in the previous elections and would do so this time to decide his own fate. His demand from the president is to ensure security and peace in the country.

He said, “Lack of security is responsible for the trouble in our lives. If there were any security, the organizations would come and work for us without any trouble.”

 

 

NGO worker: Pledges must be given practical shape

A resident of Koodikhel village of the district, 28-year-old Yar Muhammad is working with a foreign NGO. He is  the father of three children. He says he cannot go to his house without fear because of security problems.

He complained that his house, destroyed in the earthquake, was still in the same condition and no government official turned up to reconstruct the building.

He said he was participating in the polls to help elect a fair and powerful government to ensure security in the country. He said he had taken part in the previous election for the same purpose but none of the pledges made with them were fulfilled. He wants to vote such a candidate who could fulfill his promises.

 

A teacher: Restore peace

Thirty-year-old Sher Hassan Kamalzai, resident of Marakikhel area, said pledges made to them were not fulfilled. Kamalzai's house had been destroyed in the earthquake.

He says he is participating in elections to decide his future. Peace is more important than other things, he said, and this is his foremost demand from the future president.

People had lost confidence in each other because of insecurity, he added. Neither the government, nor NGOs can work in Sherzai or other areas because of lawlessness.

 

Father of nine: Not safe to go to mosque

Mukhtar, 54, resident of Marakikhel area and father of nine children, says no one paid attention to their problems. His house was destroyed in the earthquake and he is living in another village now.

He complained that the present government did not pay any attention to Sherzad district. The people of this area would vote for such a candidate who would be able to solve their problems, he said.

He also complained about the insecurity and said people could not pray the night and morning prayers in the mosque because of lawlessness. He said armed men were present in the area and people were scared of their presence.

This is why, he said, he was demanding durable peace from the future president.

 

Malak: Basic problem is shelter

Malak Saleem, resident of Koodikhel area, is now living in a tent. His house was destroyed in the earthquake and his two grandsons and a 22-year-old son were killed.

He said only tents, some medicines and a little amount of food was provided to them but the basic problem was the reconstruction of their homes.

He is taking part in the upcoming presidential polls and demands from the future president to pay attention to people hit by the calamity.

 

 

Abdul Mueed Hashmi

 


In Nuristan, people feel forgotten
Date: 12/08/2009

 

Voters in the eastern province of Nuristan said they see no change in their lives in the past five years.

They say no attention has been paid to their province, but they are participating in the election to bring change in the future.

The mountainous province with seven districts shares a border with Pakistan.

The provincial council of Nuristan has nine seats, three of them for women. The province has three seats in the Wolesi Jirga.

The economy of Nuristan is based on agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry.

The report below was prepared on the basis of interviews with eight people, two of them women, from the provincial capital and five districts last week.

 

Teacher: No attention has been paid to us

Mualim Ainullah Sharaf, a 60-year-old resident of Loy Kalay of Waigal district, said no change had occurred in his life in the past five years.

Sharaf, who is father of 10 sons and daughters, said he was a teacher in the past and his life would remain the same forever.

He is taking part in the elections but is not sure that there will be transparency, because there is no peace in the area.

If he met the president, Sharaf says his first demand will be to end corruption. He said eradication of administrative corruption would help spend the aid money in the right areas to bring improvement in the lives of people.

 

Farmer: Barely enough to live on

Ghulam Muhammad, 61, who is the father of five children and resident of Waigal district, says no change is visible in his life in the past five years.

He said he has always been a farmer. He toils all day but earns only enough to remain alive.

He is not happy with the government and says there is very little agricultural land for farmers. He said the government was not providing improved seeds or fertilizers to Nuristan as has been provided to farmers in other provinces.

He knows only three among the candidates and has no information about the rest. His demand from the future president is to form a government where the officials stay in their provinces and care for the welfare of the people.

He said all the key officials of the provincial government were living in Nangarhar and Kunar. There is no administration and no concrete plan to bring improvement to the lives of people, he said.

 

Village woman: Provide us electricity

Forty-year-old Salma, who is a resident of Noor Gram district, says although no change has occurred in their daily lives in the past five years, a road was built to connect their village with Laghman province.

Bringing wood from the nearby mountain, Salma said she would participate in the elections to decide her future. She does not understand about the transparency in elections.

She knows only Hamid Karzai among the candidates.

Her first demand from the president is to provide electricity to their village.

Salma was earning for her family through embroidery work in Peshawar. She says she cannot use the sewing machine because there is no electricity, so her income is much less because of that.

 

Journalist: Construct roads

Keel Zadar, resident of Paroon and a journalist of the local radio in Nuristan, Kala Gosh, said positive change had occurred in his life in the past five years.

He said he was a student five years ago, but now is working with a radio station and getting a salary which had improved his life.

He said he was participating in the election to decide his future. His first demand from the president is construction of roads in the province.

He said people coming from districts to the provincial capital of Paroon must first go to all the way to Laghman, then to Nangahar and Kunar, and then reach Paroon.

 

Shopkeeper: Ensure security

Najmuddin, 22, resident of Do Aab district, criticised the existing system and said no change had occurred in his life except bombings.

He said participation in the elections was necessary to get rid of the bombing and bring peace by giving votes to the right candidate.

He knows only three among the presidential candidates. His first demand from the president is to ensure peace and security.

The major security problems also cause general lawlessness. Najmuddin brings stock for his shop from Kunar every three months, and was looted three times while traveling on the road.

 

Former driver: Provide employment

Muhammad Yousaf, 43, resident of Nek Mok village of Bargmatal district, says his life has gotten worse in the past five years.

He says he was working as a driver in Peshawar five years back and had a happy life. However, since his return here, he is facing problems because there is no job and only  poverty.

He voted in the previous elections, but does not want to vote this time. The president elects himself on the votes of poor people but does not pay heed to the people after election, he believes.

Unless the president accepts Nuristanis as the people of this land and pays attention to their conditions, Yousaf will not participate in the elections.

He also suspects the transparency of the election and says that the only man who will be elected as president will be the one who enjoys support from the United States.

He knows only four of the 37 candidates. His first demand from the president is to provide jobs for the people.

 

Educated woman: Forgotten all learning

Shehla, 34, resident of Mawa area of Do Aab district, who received her education outside Afghanistan, says she cannot go out of the house because it's unsafe. 

She was a skilled worker during her stay in Peshawar. However, she says she has forgotten all the learning now.

Shehla says there is no positive change in her life in the past five years. She says she is using her vote to decide her own fate. However, she fears the election may not be transparent.

If came across the president, Shela says she will request him to ensure peace in the country.

 

Head of a civil society group: “No government, no peace”

Head of the youth society in Nuristan and resident of Mandol district Qudratullah says no development is visible in his district in the past five years.

The 25-year-old said there were no schools in the district in the past and the situation is the same now.

He said most people in Mandol district had not registered for the election, because of difficulties in travel and security problems, so they will not be able to participate in the elections.

He says he only knows the incumbent president who did nothing for his district. He does not know about the other candidates.

He is doubtful about the elections and says: "Where there is no government, there is no peace. And where there is no peace, there is no transparency."

If he were to come across the president, he says, his fist demand would be to consider the people of Nuristan as his own people and treat them as people of other provinces.

 

 

Faridoon Khwazoon

 


Demands and views of the disabled
Date: 10/08/2009

Services for disabled people have not increased much under the current government, disabled people say. For some, that's a reason not to vote - they say elections are useless. But for others, voting is a way to demand change.

 The exact number of disabled people in the country is not known. However, 74,000 people are registered with the Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled.

 

In Kabul alone, there are 8,600 disabled people, said Umra Khan Munib, the head of the Capability Enhancement nonprofit organisation. He told Pajhwok that the government has provided shelter to only 200 families of disabled people - with Saudi assistance.

 

Spokesman for the Independent Election Commission Noor Muhammad said that special arrangements have been made to ensure participation of the disabled in the elections.

 

They will be given first place in the queue for casting votes, and will also be assisted by officials in casting their votes, he said.

 

This report was prepared on the basis of interviews with eight disabled people in Kabul last week.

 

Gul Rahman: Election is useless

 

The 42-year-old says he is not happy with the present government. Gul Rahman is paralyzed and he is presently selling cell phone top-up cards in Pul-e-Bagh-e-Umoomi locality of Kabul.

 

Heading a four-member family, Rahman says he voted for Karzai in the previous elections, but did not get any benefit from it. "Why should I cast a vote again?"

 

Muhammad Anwar: No attention has been paid to disabled

 

Muhammad Anwar lost both his legs in a land mine explosion 18 years ago. The 32-year-old said he was not participating in the elections as the lives of disabled are not going to change from any of those candidates coming into power.

 

He is unmarried and is part of a five-member family.

 

Maryam: Elections are of no use

 

Maryam, 65, was admitted to the Orthopedic Hospital of Kabul because of a paralytic attack four months ago. She is also not happy with the government and does not want to participate in the elections.

 

She wonders why should they vote when the government does not pay due attention to the lives of disabled people. She asked the new president to provide more basic living facilities to people.

 

Amina: Taking part in elections for a change

 

Amina, 24, who lost one leg when a rocket landed on her house 10 years ago, is a worker in the media wing of the Capability Enhancement department.

 

She is eager to participate in the elections. She says the previous government failed to fulfill its promises and now she is participating in the process to bring a change.

 

Mahmood: Disabled people should be provided shelter

 

Mahmood, 28, lost his left leg in a bomb blast in Shindand district of western Herat province. He is now working as sweeper in Shindand Bazaar.

 

Interviewed while in Kabul, Mahmood says he will support a candidate who pays attention to the needs of disabled people and promises to provide them shelter.

 

He is not happy with the ill-treatment of disabled people. He also complained that people were not giving them jobs either.

 

Khan Wali: Wish for a better future

 

Khan Wali lost both his legs in a bomb blast in Khost six years ago. He is head of a four-member family.

 

He is selling notebooks and pencils in front of schools in Kabul. He says he is taking part in elections for a change in government. Wali wants the government to pay attention to the problems of disabled.

 

Haji Nadar: Transport problems of disabled should be resolved

 

Haji Nadar lost a hand in an explosion. He is working with the Capability Enhancement NGO. He wants the next government to provide them jobs and solve their transport problems.  It's very difficult to manage the crowded public transportation for people when they are missing a hand or leg, he said.

 

Head of the disabled association: Disabled should be included in government

 

Haji Rahim Shah, head of the main national association for disabled people, said the next president should include disabled people in the government.

 

"We should be given the Red Crescent office, besides two embassies and one seat of advisor to the president," said Rahim Shah.

 

He said all disabled, both those injured in war and those disabled from birth, should be registered so that all are given their due rights.

 

Ferozan Rahmani

 

 

 


Problems and Demands of People of Khost
Date: 10/08/2009

Security problems and lack of roads top the list of demands from many  people in Khost. They want the next president to solve those key issues.


Located in the southern zone, the province has 12 official districts with another three unofficial districts. The province has nine representatives in the provincial council. Three of them are women and the rest are men.

The below report is based on comments of six residents - including two women, and one Kuchi - from three districts of the  province.

An urban woman: We are fed up with Americans


Thirty-five-year-old Bibi Aasia is a resident of the Matoon area of Khost City and a housewife. She says her life has improved as compared to  five years ago, but it was because her son is now working with a non-governmental organisation (NGO).


She fears someone may  kill or kidnap her son or throw bombs into her house. Bibi Aasia is not going to take part in the elections and it is because she is not registered.


In her views, insecurity is the first problem followed by the presence of US troops as the second one. "Planes are flying low, disturbing our sleep and frightening our children. We think there is war," she said.


To a question as what would be her demand if came across the president, she said: "I will ask to rid us of those infidels. Don't enter our houses and don't kill us. They should go back to their countries and end these wars."

 

She says the present government provided clean drinking water to her village.


 

Nomadi Kuchi: I will not take part in elections


Din Gul, 46, says no change has happened in his life in the past five years. This is why he is not going to take part in elections.


Asked about his favourite candidates, Din Gul said: "I will not accept any of them even in exchange for two mulberries."


He knows only two of the presidential candidates. He is not taking part in the elections and says: "Don't talk about them. All are thieves who are filling their own pockets."


He says his main problem is lack of proper shelter. He wants the next president to construct schools, health clinics and roads.


He is not sure the elections will be held. If the fighting continues, people will only care for their lives instead of the elections, he notes.

 

If he met the president, Din Gul says he will ask him to quit the seat if he is powerless.

Farmer: The country is occupied


A farmer Muhammad Ikram, 35, from Sabri district says no positive change has come in his life in the past five years. He knows little of the presidential candidates and does not like any of them. He says none of them  is fully Islamic nor sovereign and this is why he does not like them.


He says all the presidential candidates are poor qualiry. He is not eager to take part in the presidential or provincial council elections.


"I know that my vote can't bring any change in the situation in the country,” he said. “The country is invaded and there is no importance of my vote."


If meets the president, he says he will tell him, "Beggary is far better than this life of slavery. We are ashamed of you and stop all this now."


He said the top problem of his area is security and the second one is unemployment. He says nothing has been done for the welfare of his village people during the current government.

A businessman: The candidates are outsiders


A businessman who lives in Ismailkhel district, 28-year-old Baseer Ahmad, says he does not trust the presidential candidates and this is why he is not going to take part in the elections.


About the candidates, he says: "All are the men of Europe, West and neighbouring countries."
Ahmad, who imports electric equipment from Dubai and China, says the first problem of his area is lack of security. He asks the next president to solve the ongoing trouble by holding talks with opponents of the government.


He says he knows nearly one-third of the presidential candidates. But none of them has the qualities Baseer Ahmad wants to find in them.


He says his favourite candidate must have Islamic qualities, Afghan nationalism and love for the land. But he doesn't think any of the candidates have those qualities.


He said only electricity was provided through generators by the Rural Development Ministry through its National Reconciliation Programme to the area. But nothing more than that has been done so far, he said.

A jobless youth: Unemployment is the biggest problem


23-year-old Muhammad Ayub, who is resident of Tanai district, says he will take part in elections although no change has happened in his life in the past five years. He says he will take part in the elections and vote for his favourite candidate.


The young man, who has completed his intermediate education, says he knows some 10 among the candidates. If he came across the next president, he will ask him to never forget the voters and to fulfill the promises made to them.


He says unemployment is the biggest problem in his area. Lack of clean drinking water, electricity and roads were other problems.


He is confident of the holding of elections but says there will be no celebrations like the previous ones.

Journalist: Progress is visible


Nishanuddin, a 33-year-old reporter with the Associated Press in Khost, says betterment is visible in the lives of people in the past five years and progress has been achieved.


Roads have been constructed in the area, dams constructed and buildings for schools and district offices have also been rebuilt.


He says he did not have a house and car in the past, but he has these now. He is eager to take part in the elections, but says he will vote for such a candidate who has not come from the West and whose hands were not coloured with the blood of innocent people.


"If failed to find such a candidate, then I shall vote for a woman as her hands will not be coloured with the blood of innocents for being a mother." He knows half of the candidates and also knows about their past. The biggest problem, in his views, is lack of electricity and clean drinking water. The other problem is lack of security.


About his demand from the next president, the journalist says: "My message to the next president is  to strengthen the country's own troops and get rid of the foreign backing."

Student: No security of life


Suhela, student of the 11th class in Khost City, says the biggest problem is security.
"Whenever I go out of house, I'm not sure shall be able to return alive,” she said. “I fear a blast every moment at every step and I shall be killed."


The girl says she will take part in elections because it is her right to vote. She said only her father is working and that is having a small shop with low income.


Suhela is living with her family in a rented house. She sees no major change in her life in the past five years.
She does not know either of the two women candidates among the 41 presidential hopefuls. Among the men, she knows Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah and Ramzan Bashardost as she has seen them on the television screen.


Her demand from the president is: "End the war at any cost."

 

Elyas Wahdat


Demands, problems and views of Helmand people who have migrated to Kabul
Date: 10/08/2009

Helmand people are not happy with the existing government, and they are going to participate in the upcoming elections.


About 800 families who have come from Helmand are living in tents west of Kabul near Qambar Square.
They have been living in Kabul for the past two years because of fighting in Helmand province, located in the volatile southern zone of the country.


The report below was prepared on the basis of interviews with four of the migrated people last week.
The majority of the youth of those families are jobless and they sit in front of the shops, clinic and school most of the time. Joblessness has compelled them to the extent that one of the migrants agreed to sell his child last winter.


Of the 11 districts of Helmand province, five are under the control of the Taliban. Two of those (Nawzad and Khanashin) have taken back by the foreign troops as a result of the Operation Khanjar (Sword) launched there last month.

Young refugee: Candidates should distribute their campaign funds to poor


Thirty-year-old Mir Alam, former resident of Grisk district of Helmand, says there has been no improvement in his life, and he is going to take part in the upcoming elections.

 

Father of six children, Mir Alam is living in one of the tents for the past 15 months. He is fed up with the continued unemployment.


Referring to the presidential candidates, Alam said: "They fully know that they can't win, still they are spending so much on their election drives. They should help the poor with this amount."

Mother of five: The next president should care for us


Qudsia, 42, former resident of Marja district, does not know about the candidates. Mother of five, Qudsia and her family left her native areas because of the fighting and bombing. Only her husband is registered to vote; as with many women in Helmand, she was not permitted to.


She says: "I don't know who wants to become the ruler. However, anyone who is going to become the ruler, he must take care of us."

Resident of Sangin: I shall vote for a mujahid


Gul Agha, 42, says he shall vote for a mujahid candidate (one who fought the Soviet Union invasion).

Agha is from Sangin district and father of seven children. Like others living in the tents, Agha loathes the ongoing joblessness.


He also complained that the present government did not pay any attention to bringing improvement to their lives.

Eisa Khan: Attention should be paid to refugees


A former resident of Qala-e-Gaz village of Grishk district, Eisa Khan said he was faced with more trouble due to unemployment after migration to Kabul from Helmand.


Wearing a black turban around his head and with all his shirt buttons open, he said: "I shall not stay even for a single night in Kabul once war is ended in my native town."


He says they are taking part in elections to bring such a person to power who can pay proper attention to the internally displaced people.


He said: "I can't say if the new ruler will be able to solve our problems or not. However, this is a chance for me to use my vote."


Eisa Khan said only men had got registration cards for election in this camp for refugees. Women were not allowed (by their husbands) to use their right to vote, he added.

 Zubair Babakarkhail


Demands, problems and views of Kunar people
Date: 10/08/2009

Residents of eastern Kunar province want construction of a hydroelectric dam and security and stability from the upcoming president.

 

Kunar province shares a 260-kilometer border with Pakistan and has 14 districts.

 

Kunar province has nine seats in the provincial council and three of them are allotted for female representatives. Fifty-seven people nominated themselves for the provincial council elections, including only three women.

 

This report was based on interviews with 10 residents including three females, in the capital Asadabad and five districts of the province.

 

School principal: Government doesn’t not heed to education

 

Gulbero, 50-year-old principal of Bebe Fatima high school in Asadabad,  said she will participate in the upcoming elections to elect the best president and provincial election member.

 

She says there has been no change in her life in the past five years. "The government has not heeded education as much as needed. The salaries of the school teachers are insufficient, no one wants to become a teacher because the basic requirements are unaffordable with this salary," she said.

 

She doesn’t believe there will be full participation of the people in the elections. She thinks probably half of the population cannot make it to polling center due to security risks.

 

Student: Rulers serve themselves

 

Farida, a 12th grade student in Bebe Fatima high school, said she will participate in the election and will also encourage her family to do so.

 

Government should focus on education, because the illiterate have caused the war, she said.

She doesn’t believe there will be security on the Election Day and there has been a rumour going from house to house that everyone should avoid going outside the home that day.

 

She doesn’t believe in the rulers and said: "Rulers don’t serve Afghanistan but they serve their own pockets. With all this time passed, no hydroelectric dam was constructed on the Kunar River."

 

Wata-Por resident: Foreign forces brought death

Gul Fida, 38, from Wata-Por district said he wants to vote but does not trust election results. He believes the votes of his countrymen will not be effective because the powerful countries will appoint a president who is abiding by their orders.

 

Wata-Por district is close to the provincial capital and there is a base of the foreign forces among the residential houses.

 

Not a day passes that the base is not attacked, and the civilians are trapped in the conflict.

"Death is brought to our village by force; we are killed, injured and tortured by both sides and cannot overcome either of the two," he said.

 

48-year-old man: On guard all night

 

Sultan Mahmood Salimzoi, 48 and a resident of Kotaki village of Narang district, said he will participate in the elections and will vote for his favorite candidate.

 

He will demand that the upcoming president unite the nation and stop the interference of local and foreign enemies.

 

He said there has not been any positive change in his life in the past five years, but there have been some development schemes executed in the area.

 

He sees the lack of security as the biggest challenge and said both insurgents and foreign forces kill civilians in that area. Besides that, this violence makes the ordinary criminals more bold.

 

"People cannot live peacefully in their houses. Me and my sons guard our house all night long," he said.

 

25-year-old: Peace is impossible if corruption persists

 

Rohullah, 25-year-old resident of Sawki district, said there is administrative corruption because of the political patronage system of the government.

 

He would request that the president eliminate the policy of granting jobs as payment for political favors instead of based on merit.

 

He believes unless the administrative corruption is eliminated, there will be no security because the law cannot be enforced.

 

Rohullah will participate in the elections if the security is in place. But he doesn't believe in the election results because of the existence of thousands of foreign forces, and the candidate will be according to the will of foreigners, not the nation.

 

Our livelihood has developed

 

Hashmat Zhman, 25, from Asadabad said 230 construction companies and 25 NGOs were working in the province now, and so he is provided employment opportunities and his life has improved. He said he and his family will participate in the elections, if the security is good.

 

Zhman demands of the president to overcome corruption, and strengthen national security forces so the foreign forces return to their countries.

 

Widow: All should participate in the elections

 

35-years-old Spozhmai from Khas Kunar district of the province who has lost her husband few years after marriage and has a son and works at a rural rehabilitation and development department in Asadabad said she will participate in the elections and demands others too because whether people participate or not the election will go on, therefore all should vote and elect an appropriate individual.

 

They have some estates left from her husband and she is working therefore her life was passing well, she said.

She believes security an overall problem and sees the problem in her region as the poor female education.

 

The families here are not ready to let their daughters attend schools because male are teaching in the schools. She said there were not female teachers and therefore female leave school in fourth and fifth grade.

She criticized the government that despite the great amount of river water in the province they have no electricity and charge their mobile phones in cars.

 

Young man: He will not use his right to vote

 

20-years-old Khalid Pashtonyar from Kunar's capital who studies in 12 grade of high school said he had been issued registration card but will not participate in the elections.

 

"Hundreds of innocent our countrymen are killed and injured everyday and there is no one to inquire, if we vote or not someone will be imposed on us, it will be good for us to keep our vote and not use our holy right to vote."

His life has improved and his father serves the government and his brother runs a business.

 

Despite the existence of the foreign and local security forces there was no security in the area and they had to safeguard their house every night, he added.

 

He will ask the president why the innocent are killed in the country, if he faces the president anytime.

 

Trader: Candidates are in foreigner's service

 

26-years old Abdullah a trader said he will not participate in the coming elections because in his war-stricken nation more than three dozen candidates are running for presidential post.

 

"We are wondering how to find a mouthful of food and these candidates expenditure tolls millions of dollars in one week's campaign, they are loyal to foreigners and no one who wins the elections can change the situation and the locals will continue to be killed in the same way," he said.

 

He believes very few people will walk to polling centers to vote due to the poor security.

He sees the elections as nothing more than an opera, but says he will take part in the provincial council elections because they know council candidates and know who the good candidates are.

 

He will ask the president where the billions of dollars that have been funded to Afghanistan were spent.

A water dam was surveyed during Daud Khan in Sara Taq of Asmar of Kunar province that was expected to produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity but still they were waiting for the electricity.

 

"Our unprofessional officials extend the Tajikistan electricity lines, while our Kunar River has enough water that it has washed away our crops, we have seen its damages but the advantage is taken by others."

 

The ministry of agriculture, irrigation and livestock has sent a 1,000 kilowatt generator to their area but it consumes 220 liters fuel in an hour.

 

"If we participate in the elections or not, unprofessional and illiterate people will be imposed as ministers on us," he said.

 

Governmental employee: Constitution is not enforced 

 

22-year old Fazil Ahmad Safi who serves as journalist for the national radio and television is willing to participate in the elections.

 

He intends to vote for the candidate who would implement the constitutional law in a balanced manner.

"High-ups implement the law only on the poor, as with the seven years passed, the law has yet to be enforced and the powerful are still enjoying their power."

 

Khan Wali Salarzai

 

 

 


Demands and views of the people of Bala Bulook
Date: 10/08/2009

Many residents of Girani village in Bala Bulook district of  western Farah province, lost their family members in a deadly air strike by the foreign troops a few months ago. Most want to participate in the elections, but many of them believe nothing is left in life for them.

 

Located around 35 kilometres east of Farah, the village of Girani still  looks deserted. The village was bombed by  foreign troops on  May 5,  and official investigations later revealed that 140 people were killed.

 

All the dead in this  attack were civilians. Around 20 houses were burnt or partially damaged.

Farah province has 10 districts and is located some 787 kilometres from the  capital Kabul.  The provincial council of this province has nine members with three of them  women.

 

This  report is based on interviews with residents of Girani district.

 

Agha Said Nizam: They killed 15 members of my family

 

 Aghan Said Nizam, 55, sat at the graveside where his relatives are buried. He says he is unable to take revenge on those who killed his 15 family members.

 

Nizam's family once numbered 19. Now he is living only with his 75-year-old mother, and two of his sons.

With tears rolling down his cheeks as he spoke, Nizam said the government had no power to punish the killers. He said the president had come to express sympathy. “The president came here for sympathy and wept. For this reason, I want to participate in the elections and will vote for him.”

 

Although he praised the president’s sympathy visit, Nizam said Karzai failed to honour his promises.

Two weeks after the attack, the president, along with a delegation including US envoy to Kabul  Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, visited the village and expressed sympathy with the bereaved families.

 

At that time Karzai promised the houses destroyed in the bombing would be reconstructed, heirs of the slain people would be sent to Saudi Arabia for Haj, and those who had lost their wives would be assisted to re-marry.

 

However, the dwellers say nothing more than compensation amount of 100,000 afghanis ($2,000) for each dead and 50,000 afghanis ($1,000) for each injured were paid to them.

 

Muhammad Hussain: Foreigners are the real rulers of Afghanistan

 

Forty-year-old Muhammad Hussain, who lost 11 members of his family, including his wife and 18-month-old child, said: “Foreigners are the real rulers of Afghanistan. The government is weak and can not punish the cruel. Americans don’t care for the lives of the people, and then they finish the matter with a simple excuse.”

 

Hussain was in Iran along with his brother Musa on the night of the deadly bombing. He said his brother’s house was also destroyed and eight members of Musa's family had been killed.

 

He said their houses had not been rebuilt despite numerous promises by the government. However, he is participating in the elections, and he had also joined the previous polls.

 

Bibi Khumara: 'I hate the foreigners'

 

Fifty-year-old Bibi Khumara says she can never forget those near and dear ones who were brutally massacred in that bombing. She lost her young daughter and five grandchildren.

 

She says her house was still demolished  and the government did not rebuild despite its promises.

She knows that Hamid Karzai is the ruler of Afghanistan, but does not know about the elections and the candidates.

 

She says: “I hate foreigners. They are more powerful than Karzai. They are cruel, and killing innocent people, and no one can dare to ask them why.”

 

Muhammad Naseem: 'I don’t know how to live'

 

Muhammad Naseem, 21, has lost 13 family members, including his mother, father, and two-month-old brother. He says the only thing he thinks about all the time is why the killers are not punished.

 

He is living with only memories of his family. He had left the house and is living with his friends in Farah City.

Asked about his participation in the elections, he said: “No, I don’t know how to live the rest of my life.”

 

Abdul Ghaffar: Won't make that mistake again

 

Abdul Ghaffar, 40, has lost his wife and six daughters in the bombing. He is living with only a nine-year-old son now. He said he had participated in the previous elections, but would not do so in the upcoming polls.

 

“I committed a mistake and used my vote, and the result was the massacre of my people,” he added.

Abdul Ghaffar was a farmer. But now, he says, cannot do anything. Asked what he wants from the president, he said: “What should I want from a killer?”

 

A tribal elder: People’s rights were misused

 

Tribal elder Haji Abdul Manan said the fact that there was no punishment for the killers and those involved in the bombing was another cruelty to the people.

 

Haji Manan, who had lost several of his close friends in the bombing, says he assisted with his own money eight people  who had lost their wives in the bombing.

 

He said the president had promised to assist the people, but he did not.  He said he will participate in the elections to play his role in changing the destiny of the country.

 

Ahmad Qureshi


Kandahar - People's demands, problems and views
Date: 10/08/2009


 

Although a number of people in Kandahar feel change in their lives in the past five years, they still complain about the security situation and ask the next president to ensure security in the country.


Consisting of 15 official and two unofficial districts, Kandahar has 15 members in its provincial council (four of them are women). It is located around 500 kilometres south of Kabul.

 

Kandahar is known as the birthplace of the Taliban movement. The people work as  farmers and traders; poppy cultivation and smuggling are also major parts of the economy.


There are three women candidates for the four seats reserved for women in the provincial council. Under the election law, in such a situation, one seat will remain vacant.


The following report is prepared on the basis of views of seven people in Kandahar City, the provincial capital, and three districts. Those interviewed included two women and five men.

A widow: Life has improved, but there is no security


Forty-year-old Saleha, resident of Arghandab district of Kandahar, is earning her livelihood by
sewing clothes. She is a mother of four. Her husband died in fighting.


"In the past, I used to wash people's clothes and used drugs for sleep," said Saleha. However,  she learned tailoring in a course and supports her family in this way.


She says the first problem is security. The real reasons behind problems in life are wars, blasts, bombings and violence, she said. "Women lose their husbands in this fighting and then do jobs to look after their children."


She said she will vote for a person who can bring peace and end poverty. She says the women affairs department helped her recover from drug abuse and she also learnt tailoring.

Farmer: Life has improved


Resident of Dand district, 34-year-old Najeebullah says his life has improved as the number of people had increased in the city, creating a market for his farm produce.

 

Najeebullah is bringing melons and water melons to the market each morning. He will vote in the elections and in his view, the best way to elect the president is to hold meetings in mosques and hujras (community guesthouses) and decide a suitable candidate jointly.


He says the first problem of his area is insecurity and asks the future president to ensure peace. He says the upcoming elections will not be as peaceful as the previous one mainly because of security problems.
He said the road leading to the district had been paved during the current government, and canals had been constructed, but security had deteriorated.

Worker: I will not vote


Abdul Baqi, 28, a resident of Panjwayee district and presently in Kandahar, says he is not taking part in election. Baqi, who comes to Shaheedano Square in the city each morning in the hope of finding some work, says his life conditions have deteriorated.


"I voted for Karzai five years back, but he did nothing for the poor like us. It was during his government that we lost our village and house and everything in fighting," said Abdul Baqi. Because of this, he won't vote.

Disabled man: 'I got a house'


Saifullah Kako, 45, resident of the Muhammad Bin Rasheed Ibn-e-Maktoom township for disabled in Panjwayee district of Kandahar, is a security guard in an office. His wife is washing people's clothes.


Kako says he has job and got a house, and so has seen improvement in his living conditions. He knows four of the 41 candidates.

 

Kako says he listens to talk shows on radio about the elections and will select a candidate on the basis of what he learns.
He says insecurity and unemployment are the biggest problems of his area. His demand from the future president is peace with the Taliban.


Kako trusts the elections and it is because he heard on radio that the poll process would be monitored by foreign observers. To him, establishment of a township in Panjwayee for disabled people was the most important work of the present government.

Government Official: Taking part in election for change


Abdul Zahir Qalamwal, 32, who is a resident of the fifth district of Kandahar and a government servant, says the security situation has deteriorated and there has been no change  in his living conditions. To him, the first problem of his area is lack of security and the second is unemployment. 

 
Qalamwal is taking part in elections and says: "I'm taking part because I have lost confidence in the present regime. I want such a government to improve security and provide relief to the people." He says road has been paved, but no other work has been done in the present government so far.

Female student: Some candidates are disloyal


Nineteen-year-old Walwala, resident of the second district of Kandahar City, who is student of 12th class and working with Pact Radio as reporter, says life has improved as she is studying as well as working.


She says she knows only three of the 41 candidates, who have held important jobs in the past. About the candidates, she says: "Some of them are those who remained with the warring sides in the past one way or another and harmed the people."
She considers lack of security as top problem of the area followed by lack of quality education for the people. Walwala says no job opportunities for women are also a problem.


Her only demand is to put an end to fighting. She says fighting affected life of women the most. She says some roads have been paved by the present government but nothing more than that has been done.

A Returnee: Not participating in the provincial council elections
A resident of Loya Wayala locality of Kandahar, 42-year-old Muhammad Nabi, who returned from Quetta city of Pakistan's Balochistan province three years ago, says his economic condition has deteriorated since his return.


Nabi, who is going to elect a candidate in consultation with his friends, says he knows only two of them. "I'm participating only in presidential polls. I'm not participating in provincial council elections because the candidates are illiterate. They only care for their personal interests instead of the people," said Nabi.


He considers insecurity, unemployment, inflation, and house rents as the top problems of his area. He has little trust in the election process as he believes foreigners will interfere in the process.


He says the present government did nothing for him. "I returned to my country in the hope that my life will get better,that  the government will provide me a piece of land, but nothing such happened. This is why I can say that nothing has been done for me."

An NGO employee: Powerful men should be removed from power


 Rahmania Tasawar,  26,  got her education in Pakistan's Karachi city and now is working with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Kandahar. She says that although the security situation has deteriorated, improvement is visible in her personal life.  She says roads also have been paved in her area during the present government.


She is taking part in the elections and planning to vote for a candidate in consultation with her office colleagues after studying the plans of all candidates. She knows only five of the candidates.


She says she will elect a candidate who has a higher education, has plans for progress and did not remain involved in fighting.


In her views, insecurity is the top problem. She says the southeastern zone is under the rule of powerful men with many of them involved in narcotics smuggling and who have violated the law. Such people should be removed from power as distance between government and people are mostly created by such people, she said.


She is taking part in presidential elections but not in the provincial council elections. It is because the people who are candidates for the provincial councils are not highly educated, she said. They don't have a sense of responsibility and plans for solutions to problems of the people, said Tasawar.


Her demand from the president is to end illiteracy and remove powerful men from government positions.

Bashir Ahmad Nadim


Bamyan -- People's demands, problems and views
Date: 06/08/2009

People of central Bamyan province complain about insecurity, but the lack of roads and poverty are the biggest problems and the people want the future president to solve those problems.

Bamyan has six districts and its provincial council has nine members. Bamyan is located 200 kilometers west of Kabul.

The province is known for its historical position and as the place of the Buddha statues, which were demolished during the Taliban regime.

Lake Bandimeer of this province is very famous and thousands of visitors come to see this scenic place.

Around 300 families in this province are still living in caves because of the lack of housing.

For this report, Pajhwok interviewed nine people (three of them women) from the provincial capital and four districts of the province.

Farmer: Lack of roads is our biggest problem

Muhammad Afzal, 42, who is a farmer, lives in the Legan area of Wras district. He says lack of roads is the biggest problem of his area.

It takes two days to travel from Wras to Kabul due to poor road conditions, he said. He knows only three of the 41 presidential candidates. He said the security situation has improved. He had left this area and his house during the Taliban regime, but returned to the area afterward.

Student: Studying because there is peace

Twenty-year-old Ali Akbar is student of the Darra-e-Faulad school of Bamyan City. He says his father could not study because of fighting, but he is studying because there is peace now.

 "We are happy with peace in our province and it was because of Karzai. Now I am able to reach the 12th class," Akbar said. But, he complained that the present government did not focus on the reconstruction of the province. For example, the Bamyan-Kabul road is still not constructed. He says he will vote for a candidate who thinks about solutions to the problems of the people.

Mother living in a cave: We are living like cattle

Sakeena, 35, is mother of four children and living in a cave in Bamyan. She says she is not taking part in the presidential elections. "None can become president with my vote, nor do I know any of them," she says.

According to Sakeena, she is participating in the provincial council elections because she knows one of the candidates and she is going to vote for him. She says: "Our primary problem is shelter. We are living like animals in caves and no one is caring for us." She says she is living in a cave over the past six years. Neither the government nor any NGO has helped her so far.

Headmistress: Development is visible

Rehana, 32, headmistress at the central school in Bamyan, who is supporting an 11-member family, says the election is a good chance for people to elect their representatives and president. She says progress is evident in different sectors in the past five years.

 “We were not allowed to go out of house [under the Taliban]. Now I am teaching at a school and we are able to teach students," Rehana said.

 She is happy with the security situation in Bamyan. She says schools are also open, but the only problem was lack of roads.

A returnee woman: Poor should be helped Azra, a housewife, is a returnee from Iran. She has studied up to sixth class. She is now livingin caves in the Chaspan area. She stressed the importance of elections and says people should be given a share in this process.

Azra has a six-member family. She says votes of poor and rich have equal importance, so all people should cast votes. Azra says the next president should help the poor and provide them jobs.

A young blacksmith: President has already been elected

Muhammad Zaman, 27, is a resident of Bamyan City and heads a 10-member family. He does not believe in the upcoming elections. He said the people are fools as the president has already been selected by the United States. "I will not vote for any of the candidates as in my view, the president is not going to be elected on the basis of our votes," said Muhammad Zaman.

He says poverty and lack of roads was the biggest problem of Bamyan. "Roads is the general problem of people. When no roads are being constructed, people should not elect Karzai or any other president," said Zaman.

Unemployed young man: National unity is most important

A 28-year-old man from Yakawlang district, Muhammad Mubariz, who has completed intermediate education and presently is in search of job, told Pajhwok that the next president should work for national unity. "Peace can be achieved when ethnic and tribal prejudices are removed," said Mubariz.

He said the country need a national strategy, but neither the people nor the leaders are doing something on that front.

 Laborer: President is of no use for us

Ahmad Ali, 50, who is a labourer and head of a seven-member family, says he wants to join the process but is not sure about its success.

Ali, who is a resident of Seghan district, said: "We are poor people and any one who becomes president is of no use for us."

Blind man: No improvement in life

Abbas Ali, 38, is a resident of Shaibar district and is blind in both eyes. He said there has been no change in his life during the present government.

Head of a nine-member family, Abbas says he is facing economic problems as in the past. However, he added that voting is his right and he will use it. He said he wants the next president to achieve national unity and ensure social justice.


 
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