Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghan Youth Debates: New President Faces Huge Challenges

By Yalda Yusufzai






Afghanistan's next president must work to address the key issues of education, corruption, security and employment, an IWPR debate has heard.

Academics and students attending the April 20 event in the northern city of Kunduz outlined a number of specific areas where they felt urgent action was needed from whoever replaced Hamed Karzai as president.

Among their most salient demands was an increase in investment in education and a greater emphasis on eradicating poverty. Audience members argued that if Afghans received better teaching and training, they would become much more able to help themselves.

"The next government should pay special attention to providing security by disarming illegal armed groups," student Ghulam Abbas Mubarez said. "Critical measures must also be taken to eradicate poverty, create employment opportunities and fight corruption."

More than seven million Afghans took to the ballot box on April 5 to take part in a presidential election. Provincial council elections were held simultaneously.

After serving two terms, President Karzai is required to stand down by the constitution, paving the way for Afghanistan's first peaceful transition of power. Because neither of the two leading contenders – Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai – won over 50 per cent of the vote on April 5, a run-off vote is to be held, most likely on May 28.

The IWPR debate was held at Kunduz University and the panellists included Marzia Rustami, head of the Women and Youth for Peace NGO; Abdul Qudus Usuli, a lecturer in Islamic law at Kunduz University, and Rahmatullah Hurmat, a manager at the Bakhtar news agency.

Rustami urged all those present to consider the importance of protecting human rights in the country, while Hurmat highlighted the gains made in freedom of the media and expression.

“Ministers should be professional at all times and must have exact plans to help eradicate corruption," Rustami said. "We have seen too few criminals punished so far."

Usuli added, “The country's education system should be standardised from primary school through to university. Better investment is needed."

Yalda Yusufzai is a student at Kunduz University and an IWPR trainee.

This report was produced as part of Open Minds: Speaking Up, Reaching Out – Promoting University and Youth Participation in Afghan Elections, an IWPR initiative funded by the US embassy in Kabul.

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