Good governance tops Balkh residents demands
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Residents of northern Balkh province say their foremost demand from the next president is good governance.
Dealing with illegal armed groups, doing away with administrative corruption, extending development activities to remote areas and promoting education and agriculture sectors are other demands of Balkh residents from the next president.
Like residents of other provinces, Balkh dwellers say they are tired of the dragging electoral process, but hope the impasse would end soon and Afghanistan would have a new leader to respond to public demands.
They say their first and foremost demand from the new leader is good governance on provincial levels.
A resident of Mazar-i-Sharif, the provincial capital, and political science student at Balkh University, Mohammad Aziz, told Pajhwok Afghan News there was no doubt positive changes had occurred in Balkh during the past decade, but good governance was yet to be ensured.
“Balkh residents are somehow under pressure. It is possible some people have become habitual tolerating this pressure but no one can close his eyes towards the fact that governance in this province is dictated by a specific group,” he said.
Elaborating his viewpoint, he said most government officials remained on their seats over the past 13 years.
Mohammad Aziz urged the next president to bring about drastic changes to the system of governance in provinces.
A Nehr-i-Shahi district resident, Mohammad Ali, told Pajhwok Afghan News that all efforts of the new president would be futile until he seriously worked to eliminate corruption from government departments.
The 53-year-old said: “I only talk about corruption in small government offices, where we are forced to offer bribes on a daily basis in some Balkh departments.”
He said no one could get his work done at security departments without paying bribe. Ali said if the next president wanted to win the hearts of the people, he should resolve their small problems, which turned big with passage of time.
A resident of Nawkhar village in Chamtal district, Haji Mir Gul, said they could not get rid of powerful individuals during the past 13 years.
“We see them changing guise. Sometimes they become Taliban and then supporters of local former commanders. These unknown armed men intimidate us, create problems for us, deprive us of our food and livestock and have turned out lives into a hell,” he complained.
He said the next president acting on people’s advice should review security arrangements in provinces.
Residents of Shortepa district say they are happy with the ongoing development activities in Balkh, but these projects have been confined only to Mazar-i-Sharif.
A tribal elder in the area, Mohammad Tahir, said the road linking the district to the provincial capital remained dirt.
He said their main demand from the next president was strengthening of the Amu River banks in order to protect residences from being washed away.
He said the river burst its banks every year, inundating dozens of acres of land and affecting routine life.
Tahir said if development activities were not extended to remote areas, the time was not far when the existing gap between people and the government would further increase.
While a farmer in the Charbolak district, Mohammad Agha, said the next president should resolve problems concerning the agriculture sector.
He owned 20 acres of land but hardly managed to cultivate each year half of the land (10 acres) due to scarcity of irrigation water.
He said besides irrigated lands, there were rain-fed lands as well and farmers used to wait for rains to bring under cultivation most of their land.
He said if the irrigation problem was resolved in Balkh, it would help increase by multiple times agriculture production.
A resident of Dawlatabad district, Bismillah, who is a government servant in Mazar-i-Sharif, said the next president should give importance to the development of education in remote parts.
He said efforts at promoting education remained confined to Mazar-i-Sharif and districts continued to face shortages of teachers and books.
Due to these problems, he said, most youth in villages were deprived of education and thus contributing to unemployment ratio in the province. He said such illiterate youngsters often fell into the hands of miscreants who used them for their nefarious designs.
A resident of Mazar-i-Sharif and women’s rights activist, Zuhra, told Pajhwok Afghan News that there had been a considerable progress with regard to women’s and children’s rights, but some problems remained in this regard.
He said sexual assaults on women and children continued to take place and underage girls were given into marriage in the province, where women education was yet to become common.
She said the next president should work on a new strategy that could identify and resolve problems being faced by women and children.
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