Mohammad Jawaz Khan kept secret the demise of his ailing daughter to let villagers stream to polling centres.
A day before the election, Khan, a resident of Warjali area of Thanai district of Khost, had attended a gathering of villagers to discuss the election. The gathering was called by influential tribal elder Abdul Ghaffar.
After consultations, the participants decided they would actively participate in the June 14 runoff election.
After the meeting, Khan went home and informed his family members about the decision. He was able to convince his family members into casting votes for a candidate of their choice.
It was midnight when her eight-year-old daughter, Daryam Gula, started vomiting after suffering diarrhea. She was taken to a doctor in the village and was given some medicine and taken back home.
Jawaz Khan said: “Two hours after when we brought her home, her mother and other female members started crying. They said Daryam Gula has died.
“On hearing this, I felt numbed for a while but summoned courage and went to see her. I tied a white cloth under her chin and over the top of her head and carefully placed her in the bed.”
Khan said the elections were due tomorrow and he had promised villagers that his family would take part. “I called on my family members not to cry because neighbours could get suspicious.
“All my family agreed they would stay silent until the elections are over. We spent the night awake. The females were crying but slowly. No one in the neighbourhood got to know.”
In the morning, Khan said his brothers, theirs sons and wives who possessed voter cards went to a polling centre in group, but the mother of Daryam Gula stayed at home. “Her mother was unconcerned about what was going on in the outside world. She kept starring at the face of her child and crying.”
Khan’s 14 family members cast votes at a polling station in the Warjali area. Jawaz Khan said it was unfortunate that some people cast doubts about the turnout in Khost and expressed the hope that people’s genuine votes would be accorded respect.
He said he knew if he had informed the villagers about the demise of his daughter, they would have started visiting his home instead of going to the polls.
“When the voting process came to a close, I asked people to listen to me. When people gathered around me, I announced that my daughter had passed away last night but I have to declare it now.”
Tribal elder Abdul Ghaffar told Pajhwok Afghan News that when the people realised the spirit behind Khan’s silence over the demise of his daughter, they welcomed it and praised him.
Villagers took part in the funeral ceremony for Daryam Gula and laid her to rest amid moving scenes. “The courage Khan showed is a message to the Afghans and the international community how much our people love their country.”