Afghan Youth Debates: Sons Vote With Fathers
Younger Afghan voters need to stop following the advice of their fathers and community leaders when they pick candidates, students at an IWPR event said.
Students who gathered for a December 17 debate in the eastern Paktia province said it was standard practice to defer to one’s elders in elections.
“When a tribal elder supports a particular candidate, young people have to back that candidate," Gulab Jan, a university student of literature, said. "When my father asks me to vote for a specific candidate, I cannot disobey him.”
Instead, Gulab Jan said, “Young voters must be allowed to vote according to their own choices…. Otherwise, we will be left disappointed."
Panelists at the event focused on more general efforts to secure a high turnout in this province.
Hajji Khawani Jahani, a tribal elder, gave an assurance that local chieftains were fully committed to seeing their people – female as well as male – going to the polls in the April 2014 presidential and provincial elections.
“The community councils have helped the government by providing premises for polling stations as well as transport,” he said. “We’ve done this to give people the opportunity to elect their own leaders.”
Sher Ali Faizi, provincial spokesman for the Afghan Independent Election Commission (AIEC), also stressed the importance of a joint commitment.
“When security forces, candidates, and community councils are all resolved to prevent fraud in the electoral process, no fraud will take place," he said. “Mutual cooperation is essential…. If we come together and join hands, we will be able to hold transparent elections. The AIEC has neither the weapons nor the tanks to prevent fraud by force."
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.