Afghan Youth Debates: Paktia Students Resolved to Vote
Young voters in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province say they are determined to vote in presidential and provincial elections set for April next year.
Their comments came during an IWPR debate held at Paktia University on December 11 which focused on the importance of a high turnout among young people.
Engineering student Nazir Ahmad said young people like him were hoping for a transparent election that would bring an end to three decades of conflict.
"Since these elections will determine Afghanistan's future, we will fight for this and take on any difficulties," Ahmad said. "We have always made sacrifices for our country. Young people must and will cooperate with the AIEC [Afghan Independent Election Commission ] and with the security forces so that voters' ballots and lives are safeguarded."
The AIEC’s provincial spokesman, Sher Ali Faizi, said ensuring that young people voted next April was more important than anything else. Faizi said 17 million Afghans had registered to vote, around eight million of them under the age of 30.
"If – God forbid – young people do not participate in the elections, the outcome will be weakened and the transparency of the process undermined," he said. "We are committed to transparent elections [and want] young people, civil society and political parties to cooperate with us.
Faizi said that while Afghanistan had been forced to ask the international community to help fund these elections, "They have assured us that they will not interfere in electoral matters. The international community will only advise the AIEC and provide technical assistance."
Abdulraqib Nuri is a university student in Paktia province.
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.