From a university student to a middle-aged housewife, Afghans planning to vote in the October 20 parliamentary election say they are willing to risk their lives for democracy. Nearly nine million people have registered to vote, but far fewer are expected to turn out on polling day due to threats of violence and expectations for massive fraud. Six people across the war-torn country explain why their vote matters.
– Omaid, the artist – Out with the old and in with the new is Omaid Sharifi’s hope for the legislative election. The 32-year-old artist, who is voting for the first time, wants to see a new generation of politicians take their seats in the next parliament. Sharifi, co-founder of Kabul-based street art collective ArtLords, was inspired to vote by the large cohort of young, educated candidates among the more than 2,500 contesting the ballot. I am concerned (about security) but I think this is the price of democracy we have to pay,” he said.
– Fatima, the housewife – First-time voter Fatima Sadeqi wants to stop criminals, thieves and corrupt people from entering the next parliament. The 55-year-old housewife and her eight family members plan to support the same candidate in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. “We are tired of poverty and insecurity,” she said. “I hope the new parliament is a better place, full of good people.”
– Shirin, the potter – Shirin Agha wants his 10 children to grow up in a peaceful Afghanistan — and he is willing to die to help make that happen. The 45-year-old potter in the eastern city of Jalalabad is a first-time voter and plans to back “a good Muslim and an honest person”.
I want the new parliament to bring fundamental changes to the economy, education and security so that our children can live in peace,” Agha said. “If my vote can bring these changes I will take any risk. I will either die or vote.”