How can we ever know what Afghans want?

For starters, we can pay attention when they spell it out.

On elections and economic development:

Millions like Mubaruz Khan stayed home on Aug. 20, a sharp contrast to 2004, when Afghans jammed polling stations to give President Hamid Karzai his first term. Ominous warnings from the Taliban suppressed turnout, but some Afghans said they were also discouraged by the government’s failure to halt endemic corruption, spiraling unemployment and crumbling security.

“We want peace. We want security. We want job opportunities,” the 55-year-old Khan said Monday. “Otherwise, the democracy and the elections that they are all shouting about every day mean nothing to us.”

On women’s human rights and political inclusion:

“In the beginning we were a priority, and efforts were made to have the active participation of women in public life. Now we are no longer on the agenda of the government and international community,” said [Meshrano Jirga MP] Shinkai Karokhail. “We are not being consulted on any major decisions. We are not being consulted on talks with the Taliban. There is a fear in our heart that the politicians will compromise our rights.”

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