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areas of Ghazni and Nangarhar Provinces—pointed to a prioritisation of security above all else. The word “security” was used in different ways, to indicate both the need for security from the threat of attack from different groups, and security to rebuild the country, send children to school, or travel to work without fear of attack. Connections to “democracy” were complex: when the word was used in a negative sense, it was seen as a cause of insecurity, again linked to concepts of imperial imposition; when used in a positive sense, it was seen as something impossible to achieve without security. However, the data also conveys a deep- rooted concern about instability (of which insecurity is just one part) and the ways “democracy” could contribute to this. This concern was reflected primarily in views on regime change and the concept of multi-party competition. Finally, a generally preference was expressed across all respondents for a politics of consensus as opposed to majority rule. However, even while this is ostensibly (and claimed by respondents to be) more established as a mechanism for dispute resolution and the selection of leaders, it is also problematic in a number of ways and is not necessarily a universal guarantee of peace and stability.

5.1 Security from, security to...

The different ways the word “security” was used by respondents for this study varied according to their province, location and the levels of security they experienced. Generally speaking, the more insecure the area, the more significant focus was placed on “security from” airstrikes, night raids or intimidation from military forces (either government, international or insurgent). The following respondents from Ghazni talked at length about the lack of security from these kinds of incidents:

The security situation in the region is very bad. There was a bomb blast in the Now Abad road and ten people died and five people were badly injured. Now people are very much afraid in the area. When I go to school I do not expect that I will return safely.

  • Female teacher, urban Ghazni

Deconstructing “Democracy” in Afghanistan

Because of these bombs people are very tense, because so many innocent people are dying in the districts and small villages. The people are faced with different types of problems, and their lives are in danger. They are scared of the government, they are scared of thieves, they are scared of everyone...All the people of those areas are living in fear. Even the animals are scared and they are not eating anything. These are the security conditions.

  • Male nurse, urban Ghazni

In a rural area of Ghazni Province there was a lady who was the head of the women’s shura. Some days ago some armed people went to her house and warned her that if she did not resign in 24 hours she would be responsible for her own death. Other people have similar stories, and also many times school students have received these kinds of warnings from different groups. They say, “you are leaving home dressed in black—we will send you home wearing white [funeral shrouds].” Because I am interested in going to school these threats will continue, along with even more warnings which are not appropriate to mention here. We students and myself especially request that the local government ensure the security of students as they travel to school, because this would encourage the students to have good intentions—for example to become a doctor or teacher in the future to serve our nation.

  • Female student, urban Ghazni

There are threats to the people from the Taliban and also from ISAF. For example, at night, after nine at night, no one is allowed to leave his home, even if someone is sick and needs a doctor. If a person works with the government or an NGO, they are banned from doing this by the Taliban, who say that those people who work with NGOs or the government will be put to death. Some buildings in Qara Bagh District were under construction and the Taliban announced that anyone coming to work on the building would be shot.

  • Male teacher, rural Ghazni








fundamental activities—such as leaving the house


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