zalmai rassoul audience

Editor’s note: Afghan people go to the polls on April 5, 2014 to choose a new president from eleven candidates. The new president will succeed Hamid Karzai who has held the post since 2001.

The Afghan people greet the coming elections with hope. They hope that the future president will bring peace and security, reform our government, and reduce corruption. When I was living in Iran, I heard from my Iranian classmates how their parents and relatives would cast their votes into polling boxes during an election and I always hoped that one day my parents would be able to vote and Afghanistan would be peaceful.

When I came back to Afghanistan and for the first time in our history an election was conducted I remember that everyone was happy. But nobody knew who to vote for; people only knew that it was election day and that they would vote for Karzai. People were tired of war in Afghanistan and they thought Karzai was good person. But now most Afghan people are unhappy because he was not able to keep his promises. Karzai promised he would bring security to Afghanistan. But we see there is no security because he releases the imprisoned Taliban from the prisons.

Then, in the second elections I lost two people important to me. They worked as trainers for the Independent Elections Commission. One was a relative in Farah. Rahela was a good woman who worked for the welfare of her family—her brothers, sisters, and parents—and she was killed at age 38 in an explosion. My coworker’s sister Fazela was also killed. She was a kind mother and teacher for her six children who remain now without a mother. Rahela and Fazela were heroes who championed our voting rights. When they were killed, they were working to bring awareness to the election and voting statutes.

Now it is the 2014 elections and the people of Afghanistan have experienced two rounds of voting, with hard and painful memories. This election is vital. Despite everything, I will go with all the Afghan people to the polling booths because it is our national duty and responsibility. We must elect a good president who brings peace, security, and welfare.

But there is a question in all Afghan people’s minds: who will be a good person to elect? We want to see our important issues debated by candidates on TV. I personally applaud the message of Zalmai Rassoul* for justice, rehabilitation, and equality. This is very important. Rassoul also has promised that the international security agreement will be signed.

We praise the civil society organizations that are conducting meetings with the people to collect suggestions and their opinions to share with the presidential candidates. My hope is for Afghan people to live together in peace and equality without corruption. I will vote to build my country now and in the future.

By Nasima

* In October 2013, Zalmai Rassoul resigned as Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs to run for president. He previously was National Security Advisor. He often accompanies President Karzai on official foreign visits.

Photo by Omar Sobhani.