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

Row Over Disabled Delegates

By Hafizullah Gardesh in Kabul (ARR No. 90, 22-Dec-03)
By IWPR

Ihsanullah Fayaz, who is blind, and Same-ul-Haq, who has no feet, were chosen after a group of around 20 handicapped people staged a protest in front of the constitutional commission office in central Kabul the day before the meeting opened.


Amanullah Daqiq, who calls himself the representative of the Afghanistan Handicapped Union, said the two were chosen because they had friends in government.


Karzai has used his list of selected delegates to boost representation of groups like women, religious minorities and others whose voices are considered for broad consensus but who might not be elected.


Amanullah Daqiq and colleague Haji Rahim Shah were later accepted as guests at the Loya Jirga.


Dr Farooq Wardak, secretary of the constitution commission, said it had been planning to include delegates to represent the handicapped before the demonstrations.


There are up to a million disabled people in Afghanistan, most of them the result of a generation of war. Men missing one or more limbs can be seen hobbling down the streets of any town or city.


"Handicapped people should be involved in the big issues of the country and they should be asked for their opinions," said Mohammed Jafar Tawakali, president of the Handicapped People's Union of the province of Nangarhar.


"We lost parts of our body while we were protecting the people of Afghanistan. At the moment, most of our handicapped people are begging on the streets and living under the dust of the commander's fancy cars."


Hafizullah Gardesh is an IWPR reporter in Kabul.