Paktika youth discuss challenges and way forward to peaceful future
SHARANA - The active participation of young Afghans in peace-building is necessary for creating a more stable, inclusive and peaceful region, said participants at a UN-backed symposium in the south-eastern province of Paktika.
In the event, young Afghans from across Paktika, along with journalists, government officials and civil society members, came together to discuss the role of youth in building peace in their communities and to strategize on ways young Afghans can participate fully in Afghanistan’s political and social life.
In opening remarks, Abdul Haq Faqirzada, head of a local civil society organization, spoke about youth as a powerful force whose energy and influence can contribute to peace and development across the country. “Let’s work with young people and use their energy and influence for peace,” said Faqirzada.
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, making young people a vital demographic. Young Afghans are also among the most affected by the protracted conflict, grappling with high levels of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty.
For Gul Khan, another participant at the symposium, the event served as what he called an eye-opener to what he can contribute, as a young Afghan, to his community. “I will share what I have learned from this discussion in schools, in teacher training centres and in villages,” said Khan.
Other participants expressed similar sentiments, affirming the importance of raising awareness about how young Afghans can help deter and resolve conflict by speaking out for peace.
The Paktika symposium is one among many other similar programmes, 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 discuss issues that are of critical importance to them and to strategize on the best way forward.
One way that UNAMA reaches out is through its strong partnerships with local media outlets across the country. At almost every UNAMA-backed event, local media partners not only record the discussion and debate for later rebroadcast, but also create new programmes around the issues that are raised, extending the discussion and creating new opportunities for local voices to be heard on issues such as peace, reconciliation, government transparency, human rights and rule of law.
The event, organized by UNAMA’s Gardez regional office, was recorded and later aired by the provincial branch of national broadcaster RTA and local media outlet Pashoon Ghag FM to audiences estimated at 250,000 people in and around Paktika’s capital.
Paktika, situated in the country’s south-eastern region, borders Pakistan to the south. The province, like many of the other areas of Afghanistan, is mainly hilly and interspersed with seasonal river valleys. It is populated mostly by rural, agricultural communities.
UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.
UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.