Afghan Youth Debate: Vote Wisely, But Above All Vote
Students across Afghanistan must take part in next year's elections or else they will lose out on a chance to take part in turning this war-weary country into a more stable, prosperous democracy, academics in the southeast province of Ghazni say.
Speaking at one of a series of university debates organised by IWPR, Mustafa Safa, a senior lecturer in Ghazni, warned that failing to vote was tantamount to forfeiting one’s right to have any say in the future.
The November 30 debate attracted an audience of around 100 accountancy students from Ghazni University. As well as Safa, the panelists included political activist and lecturer Juma Khan Hamdard, freelance journalist Khiyal Mohammad Zamani, and Ahmad Zia Rafat, a former member of the Afghan Independent Election Commission and now director of the government's environmental protection department.
Hamdard said Afghans could have confidence in the democratic process as long as they themselves exercised their right to vote in the April 2014 presidential and provincial ballot. Zamani told the students that they should think carefully about which candidate would best represent their interests. The right candidate must be willing to listen to grassroots opinion, he said.
One of the students attending the debate, Mohammad Alam, asked the panel how voters in Ghazni who had been unable to get voter registration cards could be expected to take part.
Safa acknowledged that significant problems still had to be overcome.
Ibadullah Omar is a university student in Ghazni, Afghanistan.
This report was produced as part of Open Minds: Speaking Up, Reaching Out – Promoting University and Youth Participation in Afghan Elections, an IWPR initiative funded by the US embassy in Kabul.