Messages To President
As part of its examination of how well President Karzai fulfills his campaign promises, Pajhwok has chosen a representative sample of demands from ordinary Afghan citizens.
These were gathered during the summer of 2009, when the presidential candidates were campaigning. Voters and non-voters were asked what message they would like to give to the next president.
The comments are organised by province, alphabetically.
Amena, 28, from Qala-e-Naw capital of the province, said she was busy in a tailor training center but had seen no positive change in their lives in the previous term of President Karzai. The women are still sacrificed to family violence and even commit self-immolation, she said: "There are women who commit self-immolation due to serious torture, poverty, and unemployment."
Muhammad Anwar, 51, is a farmer in Aab-Kamari district of the province. He said there were 90,000 hectors of pistachio forests in the province about 30 years ago, but due to the wars and the inattention of the government the number has fallen to half that. "The natural forest belong to all people of Afghanistan, especially the people of Badghis, and these have been deforested mercilessly," he said. He wants Karzai "to seriously heed this national wealth."
Muhammad Afzal, 42, who is a farmer, lives in the Legan area of Wras district. He says lack of roads is the biggest problem of his area. It takes two days to travel from Wras to Kabul due to poor road conditions, he said.
Sakeena, 35, is mother of four children and living in a cave in Bamyan. She says: "Our primary problem is shelter. We are living like animals in caves and no one is caring for us."
Azra, a housewife, is a returnee from Iran. She has studied up to sixth class. She is now living in caves in the Chaspan area with her six-member family. Azra says the president should help the poor and provide them jobs.
A 28-year-old man from Yakawlang district, Muhammad Mubariz, who has completed intermediate education and presently is in search of job, told Pajhwok that the president should work for national unity. "Peace can be achieved when ethnic and tribal prejudices are removed," said Mubariz.
Pakhtana, 21, resident of Muqur district, presently studying at the Political Science department of Nangarhar University, says that of all issues before Karzai, "Restoration of peace is on top.”
Fareed, 26, has a shop in Ghazni City, and he asks for peace in the country. People can arrange the rest of things for themselves when there is peace, he says. The second problem is poverty among people which must be addressed, he said.
Nineteen-year-old Jameel is a resident of Andar district. He is student of 11th class at a school. According to Jameel, the first problem of his area is lack of security followed by lack of schools in the far-off areas. He wants the next president to pay attention to education and literacy, ensure peace and hold talks with the opponents.
Forty-year-old Shah Muhammad is resident of Ghazni City and was a refugee in both Iran and Pakistan. Now he is a beggar, and he says “I should be supported.”
Negina, a 31-year-old woman from Dawlatyar district of the province, has studied to seventh grade, and she criticized the lack of schools. She complained that the school in their village has no proper building; children are studying under tents where they get sick and dehydrated because of the weather.
Gul Feroza, 42, from Badgah village of provincial capital Chighchiran, said no positive changes have come in her life in the past five years. She asks that the next president construct roads, schools and bridges in their village and sweep out the Taliban from the areas where they have disrupted education.
Nazar Mohammad, a resident of Chighchiran, said his first demand from the president is establishment of fair and corruption free government.
Fazal Ahmed, 25, works for a construction company. Belonging to Marawa village of Pashtun Zarghun district, he said that although many countries have a presence in Afghanistan, most of the youths remain unemployed. Karzai should create jobs for the unemployed and help them eke out a decent living, Ahmed said.
Haji Muhammad, living in the Shindand city centre, accuses the present government of failing to keep its promises held out to the people of Shindand, where no worthwhile reconstruction schemes have been executed.
Ghulam Rasul, a 38-year-old nomad who brought his animals from Gulran district to Herat City for sale, said the foreign military presence is in conflict with the Afghan culture and religion, and he slams the government for financial corruption, inflation and lack of security.
Bahari Fakoori, a teacher at a girls' high school in Ghoryan district, says her pupils have to study in tents under the scorching summer sun. The students are also facing a shortage of books. She urges the president to focus on solving the problems facing schools across Afghanistan.
Shafiullah, 29, a driver and a resident of Nadali district, said Taliban are present in his district and he wants the president to put an end to fighting and alleviate poverty.
Jamila, a 27-year-old woman living in Lashkargah with her four children, said the present administration was full of corruption, fraud and nepotism and added that all the problems were created by those weaknesses.
Asadullah Bawari, a 24-year-old resident of Lashkargah who is a health worker, said his first demand from the president is to bring peace and ensure security, and then provide jobs to youth.
Forty-year-old Amanullah is resident of Shiberghan city of Jawzjan, and wants the president to ensure provision of irrigation water to them from the River Oxus.
Fida Muhammad, resident of Sar Pul Bandar of Shiberghan city, says  if he can only do one thing, at least the president should root out corruption and stop the governors and their deputies from taking money from the people openly.
Humaira Qazizada, head of the Bright Future project for women of Ghar, says her first demand from the president is to ensure peace in the country. She also wants him to provide more employment and education opportunities for women.
Khan Wali lost both his legs in a bomb blast in Khost six years ago. He is head of a four-member family and is selling notebooks and pencils in front of schools in Kabul. Wali wants the government to pay attention to the problems of disabled.
Haji Nadar lost a hand in an explosion, and he wants the next government to provide jobs to disabled people and solve their transport problems.  It's very difficult to manage the crowded public transportation for people when they are missing a hand or leg, he said.
Resident of Dand district, 34-year-old Najeebullah says his life has improved as the number of people had increased in the city, creating a market for his farm produce. He says the first problem of his area is insecurity and asks the president to ensure peace. He said the road leading to the district had been paved during the current government, and canals had been constructed, but security had deteriorated.
Saifullah Kako, 45, resident of the Muhammad Bin Rasheed Ibn-e-Maktoom township for disabled in Panjwayee district of Kandahar, is a security guard in an office. His wife is washing people's clothes. His demand from the president is peace with the Taliban.
Abdul Zahir Qalamwal, 32, who is a resident of the fifth district of Kandahar and a government servant, says the security situation has deteriorated and there has been no change  in his living conditions. To him, the first problem of his area is lack of security and the second is unemployment.
Rahmania Tasawar,  26,  got her education in Pakistan's Karachi city and now is working with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Kandahar.
Her demand from the president is to end illiteracy and remove powerful men from government positions.
Thirty-five-year-old Bibi Aasia is a resident of the Matoon area of Khost City and a housewife. She says her life has improved as compared to  five years ago, but it was because her son is now working with a non-governmental organisation (NGO). In her view, lack of security is the first problem followed by the presence of US troops as the second one. "Planes are flying low, disturbing our sleep and frightening our children. We think there is war," she said. To Karzai, she said: "I ask [him] to rid us of those infidels. Don't enter our houses and don't kill us. They should go back to their countries and end these wars."
Din Gul, 46, says no change has happened in his life in the past five years. Din Gul says he would ask the president to quit the seat if he is powerless.
A farmer Muhammad Ikram, 35, from Sabri district says, “The country is invaded and there is no importance of my vote." To the president, he says, "Beggary is far better than this life of slavery. We are ashamed of you and stop all this now."
A businessman who lives in Ismailkhel district, 28-year-old Baseer Ahmad, says all the presidential candidates were "outsiders." Ahmed imports electric equipment from Dubai and China, and he says the first problem of his area is lack of security. He asks the president to solve the ongoing trouble by holding talks with opponents of the government.
Suhela, student of the 11th class in Khost City, says the biggest problem is security. "Whenever I go out of house, I'm not sure shall be able to return alive,” she said. “I fear a blast every moment at every step and I shall be killed." Her message to Karzai: "End the war at any cost."
Gulbero, 50-year-old principal of Bebe Fatima high school in Asadabad,  said, "The government has not heeded education as much as needed. The salaries of the school teachers are insufficient, no one wants to become a teacher because the basic requirements are unaffordable with this salary."
Sultan Mahmood Salimzoi, 48 and a resident of Kotaki village of Narang district, said that the president must unite the nation and stop the interference of local and foreign enemies. He sees the lack of security as the biggest challenge and said both insurgents and foreign forces kill civilians in that area. Besides that, this violence makes the ordinary criminals more bold. "People cannot live peacefully in their houses. Me and my sons guard our house all night long," he said.
Hashmat Zhman, 25, from Asadabad said 230 construction companies and 25 NGOs were working in the province now, and so he is provided employment opportunities and his life has improved. Zhman demands of the president to overcome corruption, and strengthen national security forces so the foreign forces return to their countries.
20-year-old Khalid Pashtonyar from Kunar's capital who studies in 12 grade of high school, asks the president why the innocent are killed in Afghanistan.
26-years old Abdullah a trader said he wants to ask the president where the billions of dollars that have been funded to Afghanistan were spent.
A water dam was surveyed during Daud Khan in Sara Taq of Asmar of Kunar province that was expected to produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity but still they were waiting for the electricity. "Our unprofessional officials extend the Tajikistan electricity lines, while our Kunar River has enough water that it has washed away our crops, we have seen its damages but the advantage is taken by others."
Arbab Mir Ghausuddin, an elder of Mangini village of Char Dara district, says his first demand from the next president is restoration of peace in the province. Reconstruction works and service to people are the next.
Forty-year-old Muhammad Saeed is a driver, and a resident of Basoos village of Char Darra district. Though he saw positive changes in his life over the past five years, he is not sure about the security situation. He says he cannot go into his district for fear of the Taliban. His foremost demand from the president is restoration of peace and provision of employment.
Abdul Ghafoor, 30, prayer leader at Qarlaq village of the Dasht-e-Archi district, says Afghanistan needs rule of law. “We have law, but no one acts on it. A man is killed and no one asks about him. A thief is looting a house and there is no one to ask. There must be a system to ask all those people and punish the criminal,” said the prayer leader. He says he wants the president to focus on religious seminaries and mosques and root out moral corruption. When Afghan Taliban study in Afghan madressas, then they would never destroy their own country, he said.
Nafsa, 35, is living in Zulam Abad village of Qala-e-Zaal district. A widow and mother of seven, she wants the president to pave the roads and help the poor.
Tariq, 22, resident of Manjan village of Alishang district, is a father of two children, and his main problems are lack of electricity and that there is no education available. He said security is more important than anything else, so his first demand from the president is to ensure security in the country.
Fateh Muhammad, 48, resident of Nigrahi village of Daulat Shah district, says his life standard dropped in the past five years. Fateh has three wives and 11 children. He says three of his sons are employed in the National Army but they are not assisting him. The rest are labourers. He complains about an American base in his village and says people are fed up with them, because their aircraft land and take off all  night and people can’t sleep well.
Faizanullah, 37, resident of Mehtarlam, says his first demand from the president is to expel the foreigners. He said the foreigners were responsible for the security pro blems throughout the country.
Haji Sardar Agha, belonging to provincial capital Pul-i-Alam, believes the security situation was better five years ago. "With security deteriorating, our lives have obviously changed for the worse," the 50-year-old complains. The president, he said, "should focus on improved security." To him, administrative corruption is the second-most serious issue that needs to be resolved on a war footing.
Zarina, a housewife from Kharwar district, said she is totally disappointed with how things stand, and alleges Afghanistan is being ruled by outsiders. "Foreigners have come here to fight their wars and kill us," she charges. Reconciliation with Taliban militants and the expulsion of foreign troops from the country are Zarina's twin demands from the president.
Ismail, 22, resident of Mirgatkhel area in Sherzad district, said his eight-year-old brother Samiullah was killed in the earthquake and his own house was destroyed. His first demand from the future president is the provision of shelter.
Misri Khan, 40, resident of Koodikhel area of Sherzad district, says his house was destroyed in the earthquake and two of his children were injured. He complains to the president, "There is no change in our life and the lawlessness has further increased. No one is supporting us although we stopped growing poppies."
Thirty-year-old Sher Hassan Kamalzai, resident of Marakikhel area, said his house was destroyed in the earthquake. Yet he says peace is more important than other things, and this is his foremost demand from the future president. Nothing can happen for progress because of the current state of lawlessness, he said.
Mualim Ainullah Sharaf, a 60-year-old resident of Loy Kalay of Waigal district, said no change had occurred in his life in the past five years.
Sharaf says his first demand to the president would be to end corruption. He said eradication of administrative corruption would help spend the aid money in the right areas to bring improvement in the lives of people.
Forty-year-old Salma, who is a resident of Noor Gram district, was bringing wood from the nearby mountain for fuel. Salma was earning for her family through embroidery work in Peshawar. She says she cannot use the sewing machine because there is no electricity, so her income is much less because of that. Her first demand from the president is to provide electricity to their village.
Najmuddin, 22, resident of Do Aab district, criticised the existing system and said no change had occurred in his life during the first term of Karzai except there are more bombings. His first demand from the president is to ensure peace and security. The major security problems also cause general lawlessness. Najmuddin brings stock for his shop from Kunar every three months, and was looted three times while traveling on the road.
Shehla, 34, resident of Mawa area of Do Aab district, who received her education outside Afghanistan, says she cannot go out of the house because it's unsafe. She was a skilled worker during her stay in Peshawar. However, she says she has forgotten all the learning now. Shehla asks Karzai to ensure peace in the country.
Head of the youth society in Nuristan and resident of Mandol district, 25-year-old Qudratullah says no development is visible in his district in the past five years. His first demand would be to consider the people of Nuristan as his own people and treat them as people of other provinces.
Aqila, a 27-year-old woman from the provincial capital of Aibak, says she wants the next president to ensure provision of clean drinking water to the people of Samanagan.
Muhammad Usman, 35, resident of the Shalo Kato village of Hazrat Sultan district, begs the president to help him recover his land.
“My land was captured in Qazantoon Bajaq area by the powerful men during the era of jihad in 1978 and it is still controlled by those people.” He appealed to several courts, but to no avail.
Eighteen-year-old Nooria is studying at the Larghan higher secondary school in the provincial capital, and she asks the president to construct a university. “We have no university in Samangan and there is no arrangement” for her to continue her education.
Housewife 39-year-old Malaka is a resident of Sarghani village of the provincial capital of Samangan. She is uneducated and says she has no expectations from the next president. “Anyone who becomes the king, does nothing for the people.”
Muhammad Nazeer, 51, is resident of Larghan district of the provincial capital, and he wants the president to address the problems of no irrigation and drinking water.
Khiyal Bibi, 55, resident of Tori village of the provincial capital of Tirinkot, lost six sons in the wars, and says there must be an end to the fighting now.
She wants the next president to ensure peace so that people could earn a livelihood for themselves and their families. She says: "I lost all my family members and this is why I hate war."
Din Muhammad, a resident of Chora district, is a driver. If governor and district chiefs are appointed by choice of people, this will help improve the situation as people will cooperate with the government, he said.
Resident of Deh Rahod district Haji Muhammad Wali's first demand from the next president is to ensure peace. Secondly, schools and hospitals should be constructed and clean drinking water should be provided to people, he said.
Fifty-year-old Muhammad Qasar of Tirinkot says he hopes Karzai would punish each and every criminal in line with sharia. For example, he says, the hands of a thief should be chopped off publicly to teach a lesson to other people.
Janan Aka, resident of Khas Uruzgan district, says that not a single water project has been started in the village. He suggests that government should construct dams to provide irrigation water for farmers as well as generate electricity.
Khyber Zapand, a young man in Chinarto district, says he wants the next president to provide equal shares to all tribes in the government. He believes non-participation of the tribes in government was the reason for the present security situation and if left unaddressed, it will continue.
Inamullah, resident of Charchino district, says he hopes the next president would focus on education and training in the country and will construct madrassas and schools. He also demanded construction of a hospital to treat the drug addicts, as many youths are drug addicts in the province.