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Afghan Youth Await New Beginning

Afghan Youth Await New Beginning

Kabul- For the many young Afghans who will vote in April, some for their first time, this year’s elections mark an opportunity for a new start and a new future in Afghanistan. Talking with TOLOnews, Afghan youth discussed their opinions, aspirations and concerns heading into the elections.

The Afghan population is majority youth, many of which have not known anything but conflict and oppression. But with foreign troops pulling out and the country’s first democratic transition of Presidential power on the horizon, hope for a new direction in the country has taken hold amongst Afghan youth.

In past Afghan elections, families were known to pressure their younger members to cast ballots in favor of particular candidates. “There are some families that force their children to cast ballots in support of particular candidate, but I as a youth want to say that it’s the right of the youth to decide independently on these issues,” a Kabul resident named Neloofar said.

While Afghan youth believe that respect for elders is a virtue, as a new generation supporting democracy in Afghanistan, they maintain that it is the fundamental right of everyone to decide freely on their future. “We strongly respect the views of our parents, but its our legal right to use our votes according to our own judgment,” another Kabul resident named SamiullahSultani said.

The youth have also been some of the most outspoken proponents of a policy-driven campaign season. Ethnic, linguistic and regional ties have long been politicized in Afghanistan, however, many this year have made a point of urging candidates to steer away from identity politics and stick to discussing their policy platforms. “In some families there is the opinion that the children should cast votes in support of the candidates belonging to their ethnicity, but it is totally wrong, we should cast votes for the candidate that serves the country and the people,” Kabul resident Mohammadullah said.

The young Afghans interviewed by TOLOnews this week said overwhelmingly that economic and employment issues should be the focus of the 11 candidates looking to succeed President Hamid Karzai. “The next president has to pave the way for work, as you can see there are many educated youth who are unemployed,” a Kabul resident named Ferdaws told TOLOnews.

The new generation of Afghans, coming of age amidst war, has also seen significant development in recent years. But at the crossroads that is this year for Afghanistan, continuing to move forward, not backward, is the youth’s common cause. “As a youth, I will vote for someone person who focuses on the economic sector of the country and is able to rescue people from disaster,” a young Afghan girl named Tabasom said.

Many young Afghans have traveled abroad in search of better employment and educational opportunities. However, as the nation moves into uncharted waters, this year’s elections have been portrayed as a turning point that requires the full engagement of the youth.

“Every day, Afghan youth leave the country due to unemployment, it should be stopped,” another Kabul resident named Mujibullah said. Less than two months remain until the Presidential and Provincial Council elections and preparations are nearly complete. Presidential campaigns are underway.

Afghan youth, perhaps the most invested in the future of the country, have been the most enthusiastic about the upcoming elections. Only time will tell whether that enthusiasm will translate into the participation needed to significantly impact the vote.  (ToloNews)

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