Data Gathered Date: 

Sunday, March 31, 2013 - 16:00

LASHKARGAH: The war-wearied people of this southern province are fed up with the increasing insecurity and poverty. Some of them are ready to participate in the elections, but others say insecurity is keeping them from joining the process.
The province consists of 11 official and two non-official districts and is located some 650 kilometres south of the central capital Kabul.
The provincial council has 15 seats with four of them reserved for women. Five districts of the province were under the Taliban. Two of those have recently been cleared of militants as a result of the military operation there.
The below report was prepared on the basis of interviews of nine people from four districts. Two of them are women.
Driver: I shall vote in another district
Shafiullah, 29, a driver and a resident of Nadali district, said Taliban are present in his district and he will go to the capital, Lashkargar, to exercise his right to vote.
Shafiullah said people are fearful because of the fighting, and he also complained about small number of voting centres.
He said he had seen nothing more than killing and violence in his district during the reign of the present government. The Taliban had informed everyone not to come out of their houses on the day of election, he said. He wants the present government to put an end to fighting and alleviate poverty.
Unaware of the election
Siddiqullah, 35, resident of Shah Posta of Nauzad district, who had brought his ailing wife to a doctor in Lashkargah, said he did not know about the elections.
“What should we do about elections, when we have nothing to eat and our patients are getting no treatment and medicines?” said Siddiqullah.
He had voted in the previous elections but seems disappointed this time particularly because of the corruption in the governmental offices. He said the government decides cases on the basis of money.
He said the international aid is limited to announcements on radios, and there was nothing concrete on the ground. He wants the next president to focus on improvement of lives and solution to their problems.
Waiting for assistance: Sons are addicts because of joblessness
Jamila, resident of the Deh Adam Khan village of Grishk district, is an older woman who had come to Lashkargah because of fighting three years ago.
The woman was waiting outside the office of the Afghanistan Committee of the Red Cross (ARCS) for assistance. Asked about her participation in the elections, she said: “Our condition does not allow us to involve ourselves in such things.”
Mother of three daughters and four sons, Jamila said her sons had become addicts because of joblessness. She said one of them died last year using heroin, another is missing and a third was using hashish.
How they could take part in elections when the government cannot restore peace in Grishk and provide jobs to people to overcome poverty, she asked.
Haji Siddiq: All my family members will use their right to vote
A resident of Lashkargah, 60-year-old Haji Muhammad Siddiq, said has seven sons and several grandsons, and all of them would use their right to elect the president.
He said they were taking part in the elections because progress and prosperity of the country depends on an able and intelligent president.
He admitted that the present government has several weaknesses, but adds that all this depends on the people. “They [people] should use their vote to bring improvement by electing candidates who are better and efficient,” he said.
Mother of four: I will vote this time
Another 27-year-old woman, Jamila, who living in Lashkargah with her four children, said she was not allowed by her family to use her right to vote in the previous elections in 2004 - but she would definitely go to the polling station to vote this time.
She said she would support such a candidate who is kind-hearted, educated and provides jobs for women alongside men.
She said the present administration was full of corruption, fraud and nepotism and added that all the problems were created by those weaknesses.
Said Muhammad: Jobs should be provided to people
A former resident of Musa Kala district, Said Muhammad is living as refugee in Lashkargah. He is struggling to find a job and comes to the main square in the city daily looking for work.
The 22-year-old says he has a voter registration card and would vote in the presidential elections. Despite this, Said Muhammad believes that the next president will work under the orders of foreigners and would do whatever they want him to do.
He is fed up with unemployment and says thousands of jobless youth were present in each district of Helmand and this is why many of them have joined opponents of the government.
He wants the next president to ensure jobs for the people.
Ghayasullah: Taliban are keeping vigil on people
Resident of the Jah Anjeer village of Nadali district, the 32-year-old Ghayasullah said only people in the provincial capital would be able to vote.
Apart from that, even people in main towns of the rest of districts would not be able to cast their votes, he said.
Taliban are present in each district, and they would observe the people on the polling day and would warn them of death after that, he said. Because of that, Ghayasullah said, several of his village people have not obtained the registration cards.
He did not agree that the government and foreign troops have prepared ground for polling in Nadali, Nawa and Garmsir districts after operations. He said the security forces had captured some areas in the operations, but lost some others to the Taliban.
18-year-old: To vote is our right
Habibullah Qalamyar, 18, a resident of Grishk district, said he was participating in the upcoming elections because it was the right of the people to join the process and decide their future.
He says it depends on the people as to what kind of representatives they want to elect to address their problems and demands.
Security problems existed in many areas but the situation was quite satisfactory in the main town of Grishk, he said.
Health worker: Use of your vote is important
Asadullah Bawari, a 24-year-old resident of Lashkargah who is a health worker, says voting is the right of the people and they should use it. He said clean and upright people should be elected if people want to put an end to the existing problems in the country.
Insecurity was a big problem, he said, and his first demand from the next president is to bring peace and ensure security and then provide jobs to youth.