Afghan people can’t remember a time or a government that began without violence, waiting, and disappointment. I spent all my life in fear of internal war and destruction. I have never had a chance to go around my country without hearing it said, over and over again, “The situation is not good.”
Nowadays, no one even asks me how am I doing with life or my job. The first question they ask is about the two candidates.
They ask what will happen after the final vote count is announced. I say that if no one can verify the votes in certain provinces, then the international communities particularly the U.S. will take action. That is what we are seeing now with John Kerry’s visit on July 10th. But what will happen when the results are announced?
Like many other countries around the world, Afghanistan is divided—some people like candidate No. 1 and some people like No. 2. They don’t think about the process, they just want their candidate to win.
The change of regime in the last decade once gave me optimism for a more peaceful life. But even with the support from international communities, the attention to human rights, and efforts from our leaders, we don’t see much difference in our lives. We don’t see the difference that people hoped for when the government promised they would do their best and bring peace in Afghanistan.
What happened in April and June and what we expect now is quite different. In the second round of the elections, the two lead candidates promised they were trying to bring peace; meanwhile we spent every day in fear of what would happen.
Both men insist the votes were wrongly counted. I know myself that the votes announced by the Independent Elections Commission in some provinces were bigger than the population of the province. This is just an example of something ordinary people can understand. My family regrets bothering to vote.
Now everyone is waiting and praying. Everyone is tired of internal fighting and destruction of their belongings. Our children—the product of different regime changes and ambiguity—are tired of it.
I don’t know what our problem is, why we cannot live like other people around the world. I am surprised our leaders want to start internal fighting yet again. I hope with the international support the election dispute will be solved and the people’s wish for a peaceful Afghanistan comes true.
Photos of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (by S.K. Vemmer) and Abdullah Abdullah (by Philippe Grangeaud).
Thank you for this very thoughtful, heartfelt, and cogent essay. I can understand your deep frustration–it’s as basic as why can’t things work the way they’re supposed to–as basic as, why can’t leaders work for the people and why can’t we live in peace. The things that seem so simple end up being so hard. I hope that in the next days, you and your sisters and brothers will see a peaceful transfer of power. And that under the next administration, there will be a rise in the standard of living and equal justice for all. Stacy