Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, December 13th, 2019

Public Fear and Hope for Presidential Elections

Afghans will celebrate democracy through flocking to ballot boxes to elect their president. Their participation in political activities indicate that Afghans support democracy and will not approve of the Islamic Emirate, put on the negotiating table by the Taliban leadership.
Afghans have paid heavy sacrifices for supporting democratic principles and having their rights and freedoms safeguarded. Despite sustaining heavy sacrifices, Afghan men and women have backed the Afghan democratic administration and participated in parliamentary and presidential elections to show that democracy is the only option that can ensure the public rights.
In spite of the fact that the Taliban have warned the public not to participate in the upcoming presidential elections and intensified their attacks against civilians to fill the air with fear, Afghans are determined to participate in the elections. That is, the Taliban are unlikely to achieve their interests through carrying out terrorist activities.
Within the past 18 years, Afghans’ political maturity has grown to a great extent and they have voiced their concern regarding political injustice. Even Afghan ordinary people are mentally engaged with the issue of peace talks and urge the inclusion of their representatives in the talks. In the Loya Jirga held in April, Afghans sent their representatives to call on the Taliban to reduce violence and hold direct talks with the Afghan government, which were turned down by the Taliban group.
Afghans still hold out their hope that forming “a civil society void of oppression, atrocity, discrimination as well as violence, based on rule of law, social justice, protecting integrity and human rights, and attaining peoples’ freedoms and fundamental rights”, strengthening political, social, economic as well as defense institutions, and attaining a prosperous life and sound living environment for all inhabitants of this land, which are stated in the preamble of Afghan Constitution, will be achieved only through democratic principles and participating in elections.
However, the public concern is lack of transparency in the elections, not to mention security issue. Since the past elections, including 2014 presidential elections, were rigged, Afghans have lost their trust in officials. They worry that the candidates will seek to resort to rigging for their self-interests. Meanwhile, presidential candidates, during their past presidential campaigns, promised to fulfill the public needs and protect their rights and freedoms, which was not achieved. Moreover, national laws and constitution have been violated by officials. Despite the candidates’ mouth-watering promises, instability and administrative corruption are still the two main issues in the country.
Although Afghans used their suffrage to support democratic principles, their rights and freedoms have been largely violated in one way or another. They still suffer as a result of instability, unmitigated poverty, corruption in judicial system and other government organs, lack of public facilities, etc.
The next president has a heavy burden on his shoulder and has to consider all the ongoing problems. For example, he has to struggle for bringing in security and pushing for peace talks, campaigning against administrative corruption, alleviating poverty, and promoting the country’s economy.
The would-be president has to exploit Afghanistan’s mineral resources in the best possible way, promote the country’s trade level, and connect it with the entire region. Based on Chinese saying that if you want to be rich, build roads first, Afghan officials have to build international airports in provinces and promote the country’s connectivity to the region.
Establishing the rule of law and campaigning against corruption is also the obligation of the next administration. Based on recent reports, the United States announced it is withdrawing about $100 million earmarked for an Afghan energy project and would withhold another $60 million in planned assistance as a result of corruption and the country’s “inability to transparently manage US government resources”. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is cited as saying, “Afghan government institutions and leaders must be transparent and accountable to the Afghan people. We stand against those who exploit their positions of power and influence to deprive the Afghan people of the benefits of foreign assistance.” This indicates unmitigated corruption within the government’s machinery and the National Unity Government failed to decrease the level of corruption.
With this in mind, the government has to campaign seriously against the corruption and prosecute the corrupt figures regardless of their economic or political status.
Democracy is valuable for Afghan people if it could fulfill their expectations, mitigate their suffering, and protect their rights and freedoms. Hence, Afghan officials and presidential candidates have to play their role responsibly and work devotedly for national interests so that they could win not only the public votes but also their hearts and minds.