Provincial Council members stress reaching out to rural population
23 January 2010 - Outgoing and newly elected members of Provincial Councils in the east of Afghanistan have stressed that their councils should reach out to the rural population to address their problems.
During introductory workshops for the newly elected council members, hosted by the eastern regional office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan in Mihtarlam in Laghman Province and Jalalabad in Nangarhar Province, council members – past and present – also vowed to maintain good relations with the international community, including the United Nations.
“People have a lot of expectations from the provincial council,” said Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, former chairperson of Nangarhar’s Provincial Council.
Mr Muslimyar also advised the newly elected council members to organize field missions on a regular basis and talk to the people.
Recalling that UNAMA had helped the council solve its problems in the past, Mr Muslimyar urged the international community to continue its support to the new council.
UNAMA’s eastern regional office is planning to organize similar workshops with other Provincial Councils in Nuristan and Kunar provinces who were elected in the 20 August 2009 elections.
Eighteen out of 19 members of the Nangarhar Provincial Council, including all four female members, showed up in the UNAMA-called meeting.
Ibrarullah Murad, a member of the new Nangarhar council said: “Our main goal should be the solution of problems our constituencies are facing and the promises we made (in the run up to the election) should be implemented.”
Mr Murad said the council should ensure its coordination with the international community through UNAMA.
While welcoming the Nangarhar council members, Nahid Abuakar, the head of UNAMA eastern region, expressed her belief that council members will be able to overcome their private, political and tribal differences and work with unity.
Nafas Gul, one of the four women members of the Nangarhar council said members should visit rural areas to identify women’s problems there, besides maintaining “very close relation” with women rights activists.
If local conditions don’t allow them to visit certain areas, added another female member, Nilofar Azizi, “we should reach out to the people through media and the Mullahs”.
UNAMA’s Ms Abuakar expressed her belief that the council will be able to represent all the people of Nangarhar province, “those who voted for you and who didn’t, all the geographies and districts, including the districts which lack representation”.
“UNAMA and the international community are looking forward to work closely with the new Council on peace and security, reintegration and reconciliation, disputes resolution, development, anti-corruption, anti-narcotic initiatives, tribal issues and political outreach,” said Ms Abuakar.
In the run up to the August Presidential and Provincial Council elections, UNAMA helped the outgoing council prepare a handover note to incoming members, in which they had advised them to engage more with the media and stay united.
By Tilak Pokharel and Shafiqullah Waak, UNAMA