Published on 29 Dec 2011 at 07:56
Winter recess provides an opportunity for Afghan parliamentarians to go to the provinces and meet with their constituents. But many citizens see recess as a relaxing time for the MPs. The lawmakers reject such allegations claiming that they visit their constituents during seasonal recesses to listen to their problems and seek solutions.
“People should not think that their representatives just relax during recesses,” said Masouda Karokhi, an MP from Herat province. “During recesses, the lawmakers visit the people, and listen to their problems to seek solutions.”
She acknowledges that some of the parliamentarians are going abroad during recesses rather than going to their provinces to meet with citizens. But many of them have specific plans during the recesses. It includes visiting their provinces and seeing what are the people’s demands and problems.
“I have developed my own plan to visit my people, to listen to their problems and to seek solutions,” she said. “I am going to Enjil District of Herat Province to meet the district community development council and local people.”
According to Karokhi, the residents of Herat face two major problems: lack of electricity and educational problems. She says that lack of sound administration at Herat Department of Education, low capacity of the authorities, as well as lack of teaching facilities in schools will further challenge the province’s education system.
“I have already shared those problems with the Governor, the members of the Provincial Council, as well as other relevant authorities,” she added. “I will share these problems with the central government as well if no action is taken by the provincial government.”
Safora Ilkhani, an MP from Bamian, did not personally go to Bamian due to insecure roads and weather problems, but she has developed a plan to address the problem of lack of foodstuff in the province during the winter season.
“I have repeatedly contacted the National Disaster Management Body and other relevant ministries to provide the people with foodstuff and other required aids, but no action has yet been taken,” she said.
According to Ilkhani, 65 to 70 percent of Bamian residents are suffering from the lack of foodstuff and their lives are being threatened because the central government has not provided the necessary aid for the province.
Nader Khan Katawazai, an MP from Paktika, stated that he is going to visit his provincial capital and some secure districts soon to see what the main problems of the people are and to seek solutions. He is unable to visit the entire province due to insecurity.
“The people have problems in education,” he said. “There are no professional teachers and we don’t even have a teacher who graduated from grade 12.”
He acknowledges that the Ministry of Education cannot send professional teachers to the province due to insecurity, but he suggests that the problem can be addressed to some extent if the Education Ministry provides professional teachers with more privileges.
Nangarhar MP Esmatullah Shinwari is going to his province to address the gap between the people and the provincial government. He agrees that some of the MPs are going abroad for sightseeing during seasonal recesses.
“There are many MPs who spend all their recesses abroad,” he said.
Kabul representative Shukria Barakzai is in her office every day to listen to people’s problems. She gave no comment on parliamentarians who allegedly spend their time abroad. She mentioned that some MPs might attend conferences abroad to represent Afghanistan.
But constituents have a different belief about the MPs.
Abdul Khaliq, a taxi driver in Herat city, does not remember seeing any MP visiting citizens to listen their problems after the parliamentary election.
“Our representatives do not even answer our phone calls,” he said.
Fahima Hashami, a teacher in Rawza-e-Ballah High School of Herat city and head of Koshan Village Council, is more concerned about the educational problems.
“I will ask our representatives to give strict attention to the province’s educational problems including lack of buildings, teaching facilities, and qualified books if I meet them,” she said doubtfully. “They should work to find job opportunities for the widows too.”
Barat Ali, a resident of Bamian city, complained about his province’s MPs, saying that no parliamentarians have visited Bamian to learn about the people’s problems.
Ibrahim Alawi from Bamian Province is a little satisfied with what his representatives have done for his district. He requests they pay more attention to people’s issues.
“Lack of electricity and the rough Yakawlang to Laal main road are the main problems,” he said.
Rabiuallah Noorzai, a resident of Kabul city and an employee in a private printing house, has similar complaints.
“I will complain about unbearable pollution in the city if I see any MPs and will ask them to strictly address this problem. They should force the relevant authorities to take constructive measures.”
The Afghan parliamentarians have two seasonal recesses, summer and winter. Each recess lasts for 45 days [three months for both]. The winter recess began December 6 and ends in late January, 2012.
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