By Farahnaz Rahmani
The writer is an MA student at Istanbul Aydin University’s International Relations Department
Political stability and peace-building are among the key concerns of today's Afghan people, but also the areas they are most disappointed about. In recent years, the popular belief that the Afghan society could really progress toward peace and political stability has been severely shaken.
The belief that the country could one day unite did not arise instantly at one single time, but was built over many years and only gradually reached its most intense level with the passage of centuries. Afghanistan's independence era (1919) is a remarkable example that renewed people’s hopes for a peaceful country again.
The role of the youth in defeating the Soviet Red Army is a key example of the way the Afghan youth have always felt responsible for the peace, stability, sovereignty, and independence of the country and its people, and they have always been actively involved in the defense of Afghanistan either with arms or through preservation, and in the protection of internal values such as peace and prosperity.
The fall of the Taliban, the withdrawal of al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, and the announcement of the interim government at the Bonn Conference in December 2001 revived the Afghan people's belief that the country could achieve political stability this time (although we can find politically stable years during the reigns of Shah Amanullah Khan in the early 1920s and Mohammad Zahir Shah from 1933 to 1973). The international community's support for Afghanistan's development and the strengthening of good governance and that of various sectors, such as education, industry, civil engineering, and so on, has increased the young generation’s hopes of a peaceful Afghanistan once again, and as a result, they have never overlooked their responsibilities to the community. As a socially conscious segment of the Afghan population, the young generation has done their best to strengthen their capacities. They pursued higher education, entered international competitions, and achieved much in fields, such as technology, science, arts and sports. Not only this, but they have also participated in the enrichment of various sectors in government through bringing innovations and their employment.
In the process of development, not only boys and young men, but also girls and young women became active in different areas. The participation of women in the education sector and their joining the workforce by starting up their own businesses and opening legal and consultative offices has increased hopes for the stability, growth, and development of the community because women had been marginalized most of the time, and their participation added renewed vigor to the development process.
But despite all these efforts, why does nothing change in Afghanistan? For one, attacks staged by terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Daesh have reduced the community's hopes for development and welfare. The efforts of the youth are frustrated before they make any impact. Young people cannot see the results of their long struggles, and some have even died hoping to see their wishes come true.
The terrorist attacks on universities, the targeting of female students through spraying acid in their faces, the sexual harassment of female university students, and other acts of this kind indicate that young people no longer see signs of progress in their country. They are beginning to lose their belief in future improvement and the attainment of stability, development and peace within society.
The frustration of the youth has frequently caused them to migrate to Europe on many occasions: once under the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviets, once again during the Taliban era and this time under the aegis of the national unity government. This time, it is the emigration of young, active and educated forces from Afghanistan and this has caused huge disappointment for the people. As a result, the only option for young people was to migrate in order to escape from suicide, panic and poverty. Emigration, leaving families, leaving school, leaving careers, and becoming part of foreign societies are not easy decisions but they are often the only choices. By accepting the difficulty of this choice, and, most of all, the wasting of many years of spending time and energy, they eventually merged with new societies. Emigration is not an easy process, and it means that the youth spend their precious lifetimes working hard towards the goal of improving Afghanistan, but unfortunately they cannot benefit from the results of their efforts.
In recent years, young people have played a key role in electoral processes to determine their fate. Their political participation showed that their hopes have not died altogether and they continue to hold on to optimism for peace, nation-building, development, and social justice. However, this too seems to be changing for the worse: Afghanistan is on the brink of parliamentary elections again, and the young generation's enthusiasm for participation in the election process seems to have reduced sharply, which demonstrates their desperation and disappointed hopes for political stability and security in the country.
Suicide attacks, the massacre of people, and the loss of a large number of elite and knowledgeable young people in media and journalism have catered to the already high levels of frustration within the existing political situation. The youth's spirits have been so severely affected that they even lost their long-standing expectation of obtaining electronic Identification Cards, whose distribution has begun recently.
The Afghan youth consider political stability, security, and attention to developmental and justice policies as the basic conditions for the society to move towards enlightenment, civilization, and prosperity. Given the persisting predicaments in the present setting, the achievement of a flourishing and civil society is unfortunately no longer expected.
* Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.