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

Afghan Youth Debates: Public Desire for Peace Unequivocal

By Ibadullah Omar






Turnout in Afghanistan's April 5 election was well beyond the expectations of the international community and confirmed that people want democratic government, an IWPR debate has heard.

Juma Khan Hamdard, a senior lecturer at Ghazni University, said the historic poll represented a vital milestone in the transition of a nation battered by more than 30 years of conflict. Addressing some 100 students in the southeastern city of Ghazni on May 12, he said the first-round vote provided clear proof of Afghans’ will to seek peaceful, consensual change.

"The April 5 election was a great national milestone for Afghanistan," Hamdard said. "We witnessed a very serious process which indicated that the people want to transform the politics of the country."

Guest speakers at the debate included Abdul Ali Fakuri, editor-in-chief of the Sanai newspaper, Mohammad Jawad Mohadesi, dean of the law faculty at Khatam al-Nabiyyin University, and Mohammad Rahimi, a lecturer there.

Fakuri raised the issue of security during the first round and praised Afghan forces for protecting voters from insurgent attacks.

He said the majority of Ghazni's 19 districts were deemed safe enough to allow voting. Eight districts are understood to be largely outside government control.

"Security forces were able to provide a safe environment for voters in most of the districts in Ghazni," he said. "Our reporting showed... people were able to participate in many other areas."

Rahimi went on to reinforce the argument that Afghans were no longer content with the status quo. Like other speakers, he stressed that voters had tired of war and now wanted democracy and freedom.

Hamdard added, "The people of Afghanistan have become vigilant and strong. They have developed a kind of national feeling, a desire for democracy. Our police and security forces were awake day and night during the first- round vote, and their efforts strengthened this feeling among the people."

Ibadullah Omar is a student at Ghazni 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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