Voices in Afghanistan say…

COVID-19, the vaccine roll-out and the future of government

‘Covid-19 has had a very bad effect on our community’

ZA
I got Covid-19. I lost my sense of taste, smell and my body became very weak for about 2 months. 

Nematullah Ahangosh
My mother was infected ten months ago. When winter arrived, my mother’s health got worse due to the burning of coal in my community. We had to take my mother to Pakistan where the weather is better during the winter. By some miracle, my mother is now able to walk. She is still recovering.

ZA
I could see how hard it was for everyone. My family stayed at home and couldn’t work and we didn’t know what to do. Our neighbours were saying that we will die of hunger before coronavirus gets to us … we were worried about food. After two months, they were saying we should go and find a bit of work to buy bread.

Abdul Ghafoor
The pandemic has made the poor even poorer than they were due to lack of support from the government and aid agencies. People could only stay in quarantine for short periods and had to get out of their homes to find a means of survival.

‘The vaccine has been stolen’

AG
India is the only country so far that has donated supplies of vaccine. The vaccine program is very limited, and in contrast to other countries in the world, it’s mainly those in the government who receive the vaccine. I hardly know any common civilian who has been vaccinated. 

MA
This vaccine distribution was very clearly meant for the people. Unfortunately here the vaccine is stolen by the powerful government.

ZA
Here the government doesn’t care about those who don’t have enough for their basic needs.

‘The government doesn’t know how to handle the situation in a better way.’

NH
I’m not very optimistic about the vaccine program in Afghanistan for several reasons.
First, the current government does not help minorities. Ghani only helps his circle of favourite people. 
Second, the government does not know how or is unwilling to handle the situation in a better way. They might sell vaccines to the black market just like they did with the ventilators. 
Thirdly, recent clashes like this recent one in Behsud village in which a government helicopter was allegedly shot down by local guerrillas, create a climate of uncertainty and fear which makes roll out of the vaccine even harder. 

‘No less than a disaster’
AG 
A future government that includes Taliban would be no less than a disaster, but the current government under hasn’t left any reasons for the Afghans to love them either. Most people are so tired of Ghani’s policies, they would rather live under the Taliban than Ghani, not because they like the Taliban, but they might act much better than Ghani. Ghani has made discrimination and racism against certain ethnic groups systematic and therefore has promoted division among different ethnicities in Afghanistan.
ZA
I am not optimistic about that government since Taliban ideology [adheres very strictly] to religious and cultural norms that do not respect or care about democratic values nor consider women’s rights.
MA
If the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, life will be very difficult for the people of Afghanistan, especially women and girls, I hope the world will hear our voice and we can have a democratic government.

‘Ghani’s government has failed to protect its citizens’
NH
Ghani’s government has failed to protect its citizens. It is not capable of controlling the turmoil. Ghani has also made the situation worse. Every six months or so, he changes the positions of ministers, generals and other subordinates. He doesn’t have the support of the citizens.

Meanwhile, the Taliban continue their warfare. According to a recent survey of Pajwok News Agency, the Taliban control over 52% of the whole country. So, a future government that includes the Taliban is coming. It’s hard for me to trust either the current government or the future one which includes the Taliban, since both have targeted civilians. 

I think the future government should protect the rights of women, children and minorities. Otherwise, history will repeat itself once again and Afghanistan will come to fight another civil war.