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A number of people in Paktika, like Afghans in other provinces, know only two or three of the 41 presidential candidates.
One reason is that some new faces have entered the election arena and their campaigns are mostly restricted to Kabul.
Located in the southeastern zone of the country, Paktika is a vast semi-mountainous province with an area of 19,500 square kilometers. It borders Ghazni, Paktia, Khost and Zabul provinces. Paktika also shares a 350-kilometre border with the Waziristan tribal region and Balochistan province of neighbouring Pakistan.
The capital of the province is Sharan. It has 18 official and another four unofficial districts.
Five residents of the province and two nomadic Konchis recently spoke to Pajhwok about the upcoming presidential elections and a handful of candidates they knew.
Problem in recognising candidates
Fifty-year-old Shams Kochai is among the residents of Paktika province who knows only President Hamid Karzai and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai among the 41 presidential candidates. He said he knew the two people only because one is president of the country and the other was his clansman. All the rest of candidates are new for him and he did not know anything about their identity.
Rahmatullah, resident of Sraroza district, said he did not know any of the candidates except Hamid Karzai.
Asked why he does not know them, Rahmatullah replied none of them had come to Paktika, and he had no information about them.
Mullah Muhammad Nabi, who is a resident of Sharan and prayer leader at a mosque in a village, knows Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Ramzan Bashardost. He said Bashardost had visited his mosque and that was why he knew him. He has heard the name of Abdullah.
Another Sharan resident, Rozuddin, who graduated from the Medical University in Kabul and presently runs a clinic in the provincial capital, knows several of the candidates. He named Ramzan Bashardost, Abdullah Abdullah, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Mirwais Yasini and Shah Nawaz Tanai besides the incumbent president.
To the question why he does not know the rest of the hopefuls, he said: “Because all of them are new and their election campaigns are restricted only to hotels in Kabul.”
Khamai, 45, a resident of Char Baran district and a driver by profession, knows Dr. Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani just because they served as ministers in the past. Besides, he knows Karzai who is the president.
However, among women, 55-year-old Gul Bakhta Kochai knows Hamid Karzai alone. Her son was a member of the Taliban movement during their rule and disappeared after the overthrow of their regime. She will vote for a candidate who is able to inform her about her missing son. However, it is difficult for her to make a choice, because she does not know any of the candidates except Karzai.
Twenty-eight-year-old Zeenat, resident of Char Bara district, has little information about the poll contestants. She has only seen the photographs of President Karzai and heard the names of others on radio.