Crucial role of Paktika civil society spotlighted at UN-backed symposium on elections
SHARANA - Civil society representatives came together recently in Afghanistan’s southeast province of Paktika to strategize on ways to coordinate with local communities and electoral management bodies to enhance participation in the upcoming presidential elections.
In the UN-backed event, which drew journalists, women’s rights advocates and provincial officials, participants discussed the recently concluded top-up voter-registration process and exchanged ideas on the most effective ways local communities can participate in Afghanistan’s political life.
“Members of civil society, along with the media, are vital for the purpose of promoting public awareness about the elections process, in encouraging broad participation, and in monitoring and reporting key electoral issues and developments,” said Azmat Khan, one of the civil society participants.
Others participating in the event offered similar views and presented ideas on how to work with elders and other community leaders to encourage women’s meaningful participation in the elections, both as observers and as voters.
“We are actively promoting public awareness through local media, social media and face-to-face interaction to encourage everybody’s participation in the elections process,” said Saifurrahman Shahab, the head of Paktika’s Journalists Association.
Sher Badshah Urguni, Paktika’s deputy governor, said that the provincial administration has been directing all district governors to convene community gatherings to encourage participation in the 28 September elections.
At the conclusion of the symposium, participants jointly resolved to carry the discussion forward in future events and engagements.
Paktika, a hilly province interspersed with seasonal river valleys, borders Pakistan to the south and the provinces of Khost and Paktia to the north. Paktika’s western border is shared with Ghazni and Zabul. Paktika, like many other areas of Afghanistan, has been severely deforested, which has been a cause of devastating floods in recent years.
The event in Paktika was organized by UNAMA’s Gardez regional office, which also arranged for similar events in the nearby provinces of Paktya and Khost. At almost every UNAMA-backed event, local media partners not only record the discussion and debate for later rebroadcast, but also create new programmes around the issues that are raised, extending the discussion and creating new opportunities for local voices to be heard on issues such as peace, reconciliation, government transparency, human rights and rule of law.
In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.
UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.