Data Gathered Date: 

Sunday, March 31, 2013 - 16:15

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.”