Data Gathered Date: 

Sunday, March 31, 2013 - 13:30

As per the final list of candidates issued by Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (AIEC), 48 people are in the run for the nine seats on the Logar Provincial Council. Three of the nine members are women.
Identifying security as their biggest concern, residents of the central Logar province want the incoming president to deal effectively with the law and order problem.
The six-district province, a gateway to southern Afghanistan just 60 kilometres south of Kabul, suffers violent incidents almost on a daily basis.
Roadside bomb blasts, rocket attacks, clashes, imprecise operations, arrests and killings murders have made life miserable for the people.
Despite threats to their lives, a number of people intend to participate in the upcoming presidential and provincial council elections.
Although residents have a variety of demands, they are unanimous in urging the government to bring security to the province and set in motion a substantive process of reconciliation with insurgents.
PAN conducted voter interviews in three districts including the provincial capital of the central Logar province, where the same queries were put to nine residents of different backgrounds.
These interviews were conducted in the first week of July. 
Haji Sardar: Growing chaos is top issue
Haji Sardar Agha, belonging to provincial capital Pul-i-Alam, believes the security situation was better five years ago. "With security deteriorating, our lives have obviously changed for the worse," the 50-year-old complains.
Asked what would be his only demand from the next president, he replies: "He should focus on improved security." To him, administrative corruption is the second most serious issue that needs to be resolved on a war footing.
In response to the query why he wants to vote, the man argues that's one way of changing the existing system. However, he views growing chaos as a big question mark hanging over the holding of polls.
Illiterate housewife: No faith in president or elections
Like Agha, Zarina also grumbles her life is bitterer today. "We're better off five years ago. My children are currently too scared to live in their home," adds the housewife from Kharwar district.
Illiterate as she is, the woman knows no presidential candidate other than the incumbent leader, Hamid Karzai. But she doesn't mince her words in expressing her disenchantment with the present president.
Totally disappointed with how things stand, Zarina alleges Afghanistan is being ruled by outsiders. "Foreigners have come here to fight their wars and kill us," she charges.
The woman claims the president is going to be elected by foreign powers. And that's why she has no belief in the elections. In reply to the query what the government has given her, the 45-year-old bluntly says: "Insecurity alone."
Reconciliation with Taliban militants and the expulsion of foreign troops from the country are Zarina's twin demands from the incoming president.
12th grader: Life is better now
However, a 12th grader acknowledges there has been a marked improvement in her life. "Children are going to school and the economy has picked up," reasons Ezad Fana.
The 18-year-old dweller of Kolengar, who knows only five of the 41 presidential candidates, will vote for someone not involved in war crimes and believing in women's rights.
Not fully sure of poll security and transparency, the student will exercise her franchise to prove that women have the right to vote and elect a president of their choice.
The present government has constructed schools for girls to ameliorate their lot, continues Fana, who stresses the need for giving females their due rights, dialogue with fighters and restoration of security.
Village resident: Security, schools and women’s rights
Echoing her views, another woman from Muhammad Agha district praises the government for the positive steps it has taken in recent years. But lawlessness and a lack of schools in her village give Maryam the cause for concern.
A resident of Kutubkhel village, she will back a candidate paying adequate attention to boosting security, building more schools and giving the long-suffering women their rights.
According to her, the construction of roads and execution of power supply schemes in the district are some of the main achievements of the Karzai administration.
Maryam opines the elections scheduled for August 20 will be shorn of credibility if women stay away from the key democratic exercise in post-Taliban Afghanistan.
Driver: Provincial councils worth voting for
Nonetheless, Muhammad Haroon is disillusioned with the government's track record. The driver from Khushi district complains he is worse off today than he was five years back.
The 32-year-old, who lists insecurity and unemployment as two of the major issues, will abstain from voting in the presidential poll. However, he will take part in the provincial council elections.
"The president is not picked in accordance with our choice. But I believe provincial council candidates are elected on the basis of our votes."
Education official: Girls’ schools needed
On the other hand, Syed Naqibullah, 36, insists their income has gone up as a result of the jobs he and his two brothers have found. The Education Department official plans to cast his vote if the security situation permits him.
In addition to uncertainty, the man calls the dearth of schools -- particularly girls' schools -- the principal problem facing his native Kharwar district.
Businessman: Expel the US troops
Similarly, Muhammad Zaman also admits a positive change has come about in his life over the last five years. Importantly, he links the improvement to his personal business (shopkeeping) and not to any governmental programme.
Convinced the new president is going to be chosen by the United States, the Porak inhabitant will keep aloof from the polls. He describes irresponsible US-led search operations, ubiquitous mayhem and lousy roads as major problems of his area.
The expulsion of Americans will be Zaman's first and foremost demand from the next president. "Nothing" is his brusque answer to the question what the government has done for the uplift of his village.
Saudi labourer: Government failed to help
Equally despondent is Saifullah Zadran from Kharwar district. The government has miserably failed to make any difference to his drab existence, retorts the young man, who works in Saudi Arabia to eke out a living for his family.
Because of the inadequate road network, he takes one hour travelling on foot from his backward village to the city centre. The 26-year-old will cast his vote only if a polling station is set up close to his village.
He has not yet taken any decision on which contestant he will support at the polls. What is settled is that Zadran's vote will go to a contender of his father's choosing.
RTA worker: Positive outlook
Radio and Television Authority (RTA) employee Shaheer says his candidate should be a cosmopolitan, tolerant and peace-loving personality. The graduate, citing fewer schools as one of the factors behind the dismally low literacy rate in the province, adds his nephews are forced to go to far-off schools.
"The election process will be credible, because the poll panel is our own," said the government servant, who is confident the new leader will reform his/her cabinet besides paying greater heed to promoting education and strengthening peace.
He is happy with the construction of roads and bridges in his village, where power supply schemes have also been implemented under the National Solidarity Programme (NSP).