We asked a local Afghan, Abdullah, who works for our partner Barakat Afghanistan about the feelings and sentiments of local Afghans about the election on the 20th of August. Abdullah is a vital source for Barakat because he works on the ground in Afghanistan and speaks English, and so remains in constant contact with the Cambridge office.
Many of his responses correlated with those from major news sources, but since Abdullah works in the North region of Faryab, some of his responses provided some new light on opinion of the election:
1: Is there much interest in the community about the election?
ANS: Majority of people in Afghanistan were interested in this year election, but it was less than last election.
2: Is there a popular candidate in Faryab and Jowzjan?
ANS: No, none of the famous people from Jowzjan or Faryaab are candidates in this election, only a female candidate here for this year election who was a teacher in a governmental school in Jowzjan.
3: What is the general opinion of the Karzai administration?
ANS: A Majority people of Afghanistan say that the administration of Karzai was so weak, but after all most of the people again selected him for this year’s presidential election.
4: Are many women likely to participate in the election?
ANS: In this year election many women participated, but just in the safe areas because in the areas where the situation was not good the number of participants were less.
5: Is there any worry about a “fixed” or corrupt election?
ANS: Yes people and most of the candidates are not looking happy and satisfied, they say that the election was fixed and corrupt and want the election to redone.
6: Do you think there could be uprising and protest following the election similar to Iran?
ANS: No, we don’t not want to follow the way Iran did because we have many peaceful ways of solving any problems.
7: What kind of policy changes in education and women’s rights would you like to see with a new administration?
ANS: We want to have new occupational courses for our elder men and women, vital literacy schools in every corner of a village, and some positive and modern changes in the ways of teaching in our schools and universities and the government must hire women for different jobs in different government agencies and never let their rights be trampled.
8: Will the Taliban be a hindrance to the voting process in Faryab or Jowazjan?
ANS: Faryab and Jowazjan are safer than other provinces, but in the remote districts Taliban told people to not participate in election but in the end we were not witness to any incident during this election in Jowzjan or Faryab.
It is very interesting to compare Abdullah’s comments with the news stories that are being reported from Afghanistan. We are constanty bombarded with negative news surrounding the election, but Abdullah brings some positives from the election, and gives us a better idea of what people in Afghanistan are feeling regarding this election.