A new generation is emerging in Afghanistan that is more educated, more connected with the world, and more hopeful about the future than previous generations. The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a public event on the opportunities and challenges youth face today, and their perspectives on the country’s future.

Afghanistan: The Next Generation
Photo Credit: New York Times

In a country where an estimated 70 percent of the population is under 25 years old, youth are often excluded from decision-making processes at the community, provincial, and national levels. The withdrawal of foreign troops and the increasing disengagement of the international community present both a source of concern and opportunity. Afghanistan’s budding democracy and the creation of institutions have opened a political space that is being filled by this generation. Will today’s crucial decisions concerning Afghanistan’s future be made by the older generation that contributed to its unstable past or by the next and more optimistic generation?

The United States Institute of Peace, in coordination with the Open Society Foundation, hosted a public event on Friday June 28 with some of Afghanistan’s young leaders on the opportunities and challenges youth face in Afghanistan today, and their perspectives on their country’s future.

This event featured the following speakers:

Shaharzad Akbar, Discussant
Chair, Afghanistan 1400

Haseeb Humayoon, Discussant
Founding Partner and Director, QARA Consulting, Inc.
Council Member, Afghanistan 1400

Maiwand Rahyab, Discussant
Deputy Director for Afghanistan, Counterpart International

Hossai Wardak, Discussant
Afghanistan Senior Expert, U.S. Institute of Peace

Rachel Reid, Moderator
Director of the Regional Policy Initiative for Afghanistan & Pakistan, Open Society Foundation

Andrew Wilder, Welcoming Remarks
Director for Afghanistan & Pakistan Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

Scott Smith on What’s Next in the Afghan Peace Process

Scott Smith on What’s Next in the Afghan Peace Process

Thursday, November 14, 2019

By: Scott Smith

The Afghan government and Taliban announced an agreement on a prisoner exchange this week, but it remains unclear what comes next. With the presidential election still undecided, “The question is if this is the beginning of a new peace strategy on the part of President Ghani, will he be the president a few months from now to carry that strategy forward?” asks USIP’s Scott Smith.

Type: Podcast

Peace Processes

What Has the U.S. Got Against Peace Talks?

What Has the U.S. Got Against Peace Talks?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

By: Johnny Walsh

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Afghan peace process, closing off for the time being a rare opening to resolve a long, stagnant, and unpopular war. Whatever one thinks of the specifics of the deal that the U.S. representative at the talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, had nearly finalized with the Taliban, the episode was a perfect demonstration of the conflicted, often self-defeating view of peace agreements that mires U.S. foreign policy.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Peace Processes

To Protect Afghan Women’s Rights, U.S. Must Remain Engaged

To Protect Afghan Women’s Rights, U.S. Must Remain Engaged

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

By: Adam Gallagher

It’s been over a year since the U.S., led by Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad, opened talks with the Taliban aimed at ending the 18-year war. Over that year, Afghan women have demanded a seat at the negotiating table, worried that the hard-won gains made over the last two decades could be in jeopardy. Even with the peace process stalled, “it is vital that the U.S. remain engaged” to ensure that Afghan women’s rights are protected, said Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) last week at the U.S. Institute of Peace’s latest Bipartisan Congressional Dialogue.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Gender; Democracy & Governance

Scott Worden on Afghan Elections and the Peace Process

Scott Worden on Afghan Elections and the Peace Process

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

By: Scott Worden

A week and a half after Afghan presidential polls, the results remain unclear. But, we do know that turnout was historically low, largely due to dire security conditions. Meanwhile, with the peace process stalled, USIP’s Scott Worden says the upsurge in U.S. military operations against the Taliban is a “pressure tactic, not a victory strategy.”

Electoral Violence; Democracy & Governance; Peace Processes

View All Publications