Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghan Youth Debates: New Government Must Start Delivering

By Rahim Gul Nayel






Hopes for peace and prosperity in Afghanistan hinge on the formation of a government based on merit rather than nepotism, according to politicians in the southeastern Khost region.

Sayed Karim Khan Khaksar, chairman of the Khost provincial assembly in the southeast of the country, told an audience of students that the nation's future development depended on President Hamed Karzai’s successor being able to form a cabinet that had real expertise.

Khaksar was speaking at a debate organised by IWPR on January 1 at Khost University. More than 100 students attended the event to discuss their hopes for and expectations of a new government.

Afghans will go to the polls on April 5 in a presidential election, the first time one head of state will have handed power to another in a peaceful transition.

Despite optimism about the coming vote, many Afghans fear a continuation of the corruption and infighting that have dogged Karzai's decade in office. Afghanistan currently sits at the bottom of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions index, tied with North Korea and Somalia.

“At the moment, we can see people across all government offices who have been appointed only through nepotism," Khaksar said. "Our future president must form a stronger cabinet and appoint good provincial and district governors, and police chiefs too, who are capable of solving the country's problems."

Provincial-level elections will be held simultaneously with the presidential ballot.

Many participants in the debate agreed that an election could help secure a brighter future for Afghanistan, cementing democratic values and giving voice to the millions who want change. Others saw little chance of any measurable impact, especially in terms of security.

Mohammadullah Mandozai, dean of law and political science at Khost University, agreed with Khaksar that a peaceful future depended on good governance. He said a new administration had to be seen to apply the law equally rather than making exceptions for those it favoured.

“We want and expect the establishment of a strong government that can ensure people's welfare and prosperity," he said.

Mali Khan Yaqubi, a civil activist and debate panellist, told the audience that Khost province was in dire need of new infrastructure, including new roads, improved utilities and an upgraded airport.

“People need the new road between Khost and Gardez [in neighbouring Paktia province] to be finished, as well as the development of Khost airport. We also need better water management and electricity provision," he said.

Rahim Gul Nayel is a university student in Khost province, 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.


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