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

Afghan Youth Debates: Voters Must See Election Process Through

By Nesar Ahmad






Students from the restive southern province of Kandahar have been urged to back the second round of voting that will decide who becomes Afghanistan's next president.

Speaking at a packed IWPR debate held on April 24, panellists argued that undergraduates had a duty to remain focused on the election and see the process through to the end.

A number of political analysts in Afghanistan have begun to voice fears that the run-off vote currently scheduled for May 28 could see a significant drop in turnout because of perceptions of a far greater threat from Taleban insurgents intent on disrupting the ballot.

A run-off between leading contenders Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former World Bank executive, is required because neither candidate secured the absolute majority needed to win the presidency in the first round.

Mohammad Nasim, a journalism student at Kandahar University, asked the debate why lecturers and school teachers were often vociferous supporters of the election, whereas Muslim clerics in the province were either silent or openly opposed the vote.

Sher Khan Afghan, a journalism lecturer, replied, "Mullahs do not like it [the election] because the current government is under the influence of foreigners. But that doesn’t mean we should remain silent and not vote. We should try to find a solution and help determine our own destiny."

The debate took place at Kandahar University before an audience of some 100 students. Guest speakers included Ehsanullah Ehsan, dean of the Kandahar Institute of Modern Sciences, and Sultan Mohammad, head of the faculty of law and politics at the province’s Mirwais Nika University.

Nesar Ahmad is a student at Kandahar 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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