Published on 09 Oct 2010 at 03:30
By Zahir Eztarabi
Despite numerous problems, including violence and fraud, there are Afghans who view the September 18 Parliamentary elections as a step forward in the country’s development.
“No one can individually convey his or her problems to the government,” said Abdul Samad, 65, a farmer in the Yakatoot area of Kabul. “It is through elections that representatives of the people can convey the problems of their constituents to the government.”
For Samad, this is the value of the election process.
Sayed Mirzayee, 28, who runs a vegetable shop in the Dydana area of Kabul, is also happy that the elections took place.
“If there were no elections, a single individual could grab the leadership of a state as if it were his inheritance,” he said.
Rohullah, 31, works as a street cleaner in Kabul’s Ninth District. While working on one of the streets of Microrayan he said, “This is a moment of pride for us, when we voted according to our own will. Without elections, we would have the same mess we had before.”
But Gul Habib, who clams to be 48, even though his beard is completely gray, is more cautious in his assessment. He lives in the Deh Sabz area north of Kabul, and says he lost his right leg during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
“Elections are good,” he said, “but only if they are for the good of Islam and for the people.”
Zakia a female laborer, 35, was busy working in the binding section of the state-owned Azadi printing press.
“Voting is a right enshrined in the law,” she said. “When I vote for the candidate of my choice it means I have exercised my legal right. This is a very good ting.”
Despite the fact that the general education level in Afghanistan is low, it seems that the common people, even illiterate segments of society, have gradually begun to recognize the importance of elections.
Abdul Hadi, 24, sells telephone top-up cards in Kabul city. He does not hide the fact that he did not vote; he did not have a voter registration card, he said.
But he thinks that elections are a sensible initiative, since it is impossible for every individual citizen to bring his problems to the attention of the government.
Qais, an employee of the Wazir Akbar Khan branch of Kabul Bank, considers elections a sign of progress only if they are conducted in a free and fair manner. The young man, who is working on a degree in business administration from a private institute in Kabul, does not deny the importance of elections.
Bt, he added, “when elections are conducted at such an enormous cost it would be better if the international community and the national government expended their energy in ensuring that they are free and fair.”
Mohammad Daud Abdul Rahimzai, a reporter for the Kabul Times newspaper, emphasized that after four decades of war this election means a great deal for Afghanistan. It is through elections that people have the opportunity to have a say regarding the candidate of their choice, he said.
Abdul Kabir Ranjbar, a political analyst and a Member of Parliament says that elections are the only way forward.
“There is no alternative to elections for the institutionalization of democracy. Without elections the system will tend towards despotism,” he said.
Even a faulty election is better than none at all, he added.
“It because (there is no alternative) that even an election with all these problems is a step forward,” he said. “Although the situation in the country is not conducive to conducting free and fair elections, a proper atmosphere can be created if efforts are made.”
The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) described the participation of voters and security arrangements made for the elections as “noteworthy,” and added that the participation of millions of Afghans in the elections despite the technical problems and fraud is a sign of their courage and support for democracy in the country.
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