After two decades of War on Terror that was imposed on the lives of innocent people of Afghanistan, it is time that Afghan people and the youth gather and find solutions to restore peace in the country. In these 20 years peace was an illusion for my generation. Every single spent in Afghanistan was incomplete without hearing news of innocent children, mothers and men killed in bomb and suicide attacks.
Since the Taliban seized control of Kabul, the definition and parameters of peace have changed for me and millions of other women in Afghanistan. For almost two years there has been no war, but it does not mean that we are living in peaceful times. Today, if the people of Afghanistan are asked to define the word peace, they are ready with a negative definition, that peace means absence of any kind of violence.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021 they have issued more than 50 decrees aimed at disappearing women from public spaces of the country. Women constitute half of the population in Afghanistan. This begs a question, whether it is possible to take away their basic human rights at such a large scale? There is no freedom for women, nowhere to
go, no space to spend leisure time with friends, it feels like there is nowhere to breathe in Afghanistan. After primary school, girls are not allowed to continue education, women are banned from going to university and working outside their homes, including local and international NGOs that were crucial sources of livelihood for hundreds of thousands of working women. For countless families, feeding children and surviving is the greatest challenge. The result is growing poverty, malnutrition and death. Any of these can be a reason to make the distance of Afghan people’s life far from peace.
In addition, the Taliban who are in power belong to one specific ethnic group and have not shied away from demonstrating their hatred towards. Their government is not inclusive and none of the other ethnic groups in Afghanistan is represented in the higher echelons
of the Taliban. But Afghanistan is a multicultural, multilingual and multireligious country and it is the homeland to all ethnic groups.  Moreover, since August 2021 the ethnic and religious minorities have been under constant attack without any recourse to justice. In the last couple of years a huge number of innocent Hazara men have been killed in mosques while offering prayers and a large number of young teenage female Hazaras have been killed at schools in suicide attacks. Even as the international community relies on the Taliban to combat radical outfits like ISIS, the Taliban’s radicalization has been normalized. Attacks on Hazaras on a daily basis have become a common phenomenon.
Another religious minority in Afghanistan is the Sikh people, some of whom have been killed inside their places of worship. As a result, our Sikh brothers were forced to leave the country because they are no longer safe in their homeland.
Despite the sorry state of affairs I still feel that there is space for optimism. Being the generation who survived the war and had the opportunity to access schools and universities. Regrets about what we lost can be a thing of past and now is the time we think about what we must do and what can we
can do to change this situation to create conditions of lasting peace.
Achieving peace requires collective efforts from Afghan society, regional allies and the international powers that exercise some form of economic leverage over the Taliban. Further, it is important the youth also work towards bringing consensus among the elders. We need to create space for dialogue that mobilizes youth and the society’s elders as a pressure group against the Taliban. The various international NGOs and advocacy groups must play a role in amplifying the collective voice of these Afghans in order to nudge the international community to devolve greater rights to the common Afghan.
As UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan. It’s time for the international community to stand, work, act together: We must speak with one voice to uphold human rights”.
It might seem difficult to undertake any activity under the current regime, but as Afghan youths, at least we must do what we can. So one day we do not regret that we had the opportunity, ability, knowledge and the skill, but we did nothing because we were afraid of our lives. In the hope that future generations will understand that if we did not bring peace in our country but at least we tried.

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