Afghan Youth Debates: Security a Major Concern in Kunduz

دری

A politician in Afghanistan's northeastern Kunduz province has criticised local leaders for failing to improve security and stamp out corruption there.

Asila Barakzai, a member of the provincial council, told an IWPR-backed student debate on January 2 that police commanders had made many promises to address the threat of insurgent violence, but few people were satisfied with the response.

In September 2013, Amanullah Aman, the head of Afghanistan's electoral commission in Kunduz, was shot by two Taleban gunman on a motorbike while on his way to work. He died of his wounds in hospital.

Barakzai said this type of incident, combined with concerns about corruption, made voters reluctant to take part in the April 5 elections.

"People's main concern in Kunduz is the lack of security,” she said. “Security problems persist in the province, and people are also concerned about interference by powerful, irresponsible individuals around the city."

Afghanistan will go to the polls on April 5 to vote in provincial elections as well as for a successor to President Hamed Karzai. Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has said the elections are not legitimate.

Ismail, a spokesman for Kunduz's provincial governor, told the debate he was confident that any attempts at fraud or corruption during the ballot would be properly dealt with.

"Efforts are in train to hold transparent elections," he said. "There is a presidential decree clearly stating that no government official can interfere in the elections and that anyone who does so will be dealt with by the judiciary."

Mohammad Hashem, a student, asked the provincial police chief, General Bahir, what guarantees he could give regarding security on election day itself.

"We assure people that there will be no problems," the general responded. "The situation is very good." 

Muzhda Zharf Yusufzai is a student at Kunduz University and an IWPR trainee.

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.