FES: Aisha, welcome to Berlin and to FES Headquarters! You will be representing the young generation of Afghanistan at the UN Security Council, a tremendous honor and responsibility! What is the message that you bring regarding the younger generation’s view of politics in Afghanistan and their aspirations?
Aisha: In Afghanistan, the younger generation sees its participation and inclusion in the decision-making process not as a privilege, but as a right. We are the majority of the population of Afghanistan. And still, young people in Afghanistan perceive themselves as a marginalized, forgotten majority. In this sense, many are disappointed that there seems to be a big gap between the political elites and the younger generation.
Can you describe to us the role of the younger generation in Afghan politics? Which obstacles do you still see?
There have been some efforts to include young people in the government and in decision making processes, but many people of my age are not really convinced by such symbolic acts. What we need is meaningful and substantive representation of our generation, both in the government and in every important decision-making process related to our future.
If young people are not represented adequately in Afghan politics, how could this be addressed by the government?
First, the government should not only endorse its own ideas or only focus on the interests of their own supporters. A truly democratic government needs to include the voices of all individuals in society, regardless of whether you are an opponent or a supporter of the government, whether you are powerful or have your future ahead of you. Only then, the integration of young people can go beyond numbers and beyond a symbolic rule. This is important as even we youngsters have a great responsibility for the future of the country, and we are trying to not inherit a war that we have inherited.
Why is it important that the wishes and demands of your generation are considered?
This is a crucial moment for us being able to have a say about our future and we must be involved in the political processes the sooner the better. We honestly don’t expect political elites, who wage the war in Afghanistan for many years, to find innovative solutions to our everyday problems. So, I have trust that the next generation, who has not been part of these elites or has a different perspective than their parents, can bring very creative and new solutions into the discussion, both innovative and impartial.
What do you and other young Afghans expect and demand from the ongoing peace process?
For most young Afghans, we do not necessarily care about leadership positions. Our biggest concern is that our future is at stake in the peace process and that needs to be considered by the political elites and those negotiating on our behalf. After all, it will be our generation that is going to live with whatever the peace process may entail. We do not want to be the victims of a political deal after having been the victims of war for many years, this is why we try to make our voices heard. In this critical time for the future of all Afghans, the ideas, interests, rights and achievements for the young generation need to be preserved and this will also be my message to the UN Security Council.
Thank you Aisha and all the best for your trip to New York!
The Interview was conducted by Benjamin Reichenbach during Aisha Khurram's visit to FES Headquarters in Berlin on December 12th, 2019.