GARDEZ - The active participation of young Afghans in peace-building is necessary for creating a more stable, inclusive and peaceful region, said panellists in a UN-backed radio programme in the south-eastern province of Paktika.
The Pashtoon Ghag Radio broadcast, reaching around 350,000 listeners in and around the provincial capital of Gardez, featured panellists discussing the role of youth in building peace in their communities and strategizing on ways young Afghans can participate in Afghanistan’s political and social life.
“Youth must break their silence and use their voices for peace, as thousands of young Afghans have been lost in the war,” said Zalmai Kharoty, a youth activist. He called on youth to unite and coordinate their peace efforts with rights activists, religious scholars and other community leaders.
Echoing these sentiments, panellist Mohammad Nabi Hamdard praised Paktika’s youth for initiatives such as establishing peace tents in Sharana and other districts around the province.
“These peace initiatives conveyed the strong message to both sides of the conflict, and to the international community, that Afghans are tired of the devastating war,” he said. “There is no price too high to pay for peace; we must continue with our struggle to end the war.”
While young Afghans in Paktika face significant challenges, including illiteracy and unemployment, there is a growing recognition that any peace process in Afghanistan must be inclusive and must therefore involve young people. That concept is reaffirmed by Security Council Resolution 2282 (2016), which recognizes the importance of youth in deterring and resolving conflict.
Afghanistan has one of the largest youth populations in the world. According to some estimates, three-quarters of the country’s population is below the age of 30. Young Afghans are also among the most affected by the protracted conflict, grappling with high levels of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty.
The Paktika programme is one among many other similar events and initiatives that have emerged as a result of UNAMA reaching out to a range of groups across the country, creating spaces, both physical and on social media, for them to come together and constructively discuss issues that are of critical importance to them and to strategize on the best way forward.