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Afghan Youth Debates: Impartial Media Crucial for Polls

By Uzra Aziz

It is imperative for Afghan media to be balanced and impartial if next month’s elections are to be free and fair, an IWPR debate has heard.

Speaking during an IWPR debate held on February 17 in the Injil district of the western Herat province, local reporter Ali Arman told journalists to ensure their coverage was objective.

"Impartiality and objectivity form the backbone of a reporter’s work, and media outlets must meet these standards,” Arman told the audience.

Students and villagers attending the event questioned the panellists on a range of issues including how to encourage greater numbers of younger voters to take part in the April 5 poll.

Basir Ahmad Begzad, a political analyst who was among the guest speakers, said a high youth turnout would be the "cornerstone" in a smooth transition of power.

“It is for young Afghans to take a leading role in changing public opinion and promoting people’s participation in the elections," he said. "This is their duty, their goal.”

Habibullah Farzam, a civil activist, agreed that it was younger people who were best equipped to break the country's 30 year cycle of violence and conflict.

“Young people are thoughtful and understand the modern world better, whereas our fathers are frequently not as well-informed," he argued. "Young people can absorb information faster and they can share their ideas actively, which can have a real impact in the community.”

Uzra Aziz is a student at Herat 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.

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