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Afghans Worry About What Will Happen To Their Country After Troops Leave

By Edrees Kakar
KABUL, Afghanistan – The withdrawal of
international troops from Afghanistan and the upcoming Afghan presidential
election in 2014 makes it a challenging year for the country.
While there
is some level of optimism with the Afghan government for taking responsibility
for the security of the country and running a transparent election, there is
public concern over the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan and
the consequences that will follow.

concerns are mainly on the economic and security aspects of the country as
thousands of jobs will be lost with the draw-down of international troops and
the security responsibility will be transferred to Afghan security forces, who
are less equipped to handle it.

Youth Journalism International asked five
young adult Afghans what 2014 means to them. The respondents expressed expectations,
worries, optimism and offered suggestions for the challenges ahead. Their
written responses follow their identifying information.
Khalid is a 24-year-old Afghan social activist with more than six years of
professional experience in the field of technology, communications and
development. Khalid has worked in government, education and charitable
organizations. In recent years he’s given extensive IT training to more than
300 students in Kabul at various vocational and private educational centers.
The year 2014 is anticipated to bring two
different changes to Afghanistan. First, international troops will be withdrawn
from Afghanistan. This will lead the people of Afghanistan, the region and the international
community to ask serious questions, including the most important one: “Are
we going to be safe?”

Nasrat Khalid


Second, the issue of elections, which leads
to a new president and changes in the core management of the country. Like
troop withdrawal, this also brings up different questions and concerns in our
minds. People will be wondering about the election process, security
management, international relations and many other things.
Since Afghanistan has been a warzone for
approximately 25 years, the people don’t have any practical knowledge of
successful governance.  This does raise
an alarm in the minds of political personalities and within the societies of
the region and international community. It isn’t certain that Afghanistan will
soon be able to grow into a peaceful and developed country. Furthermore, the
people of Afghanistan are very reluctant to contribute to the development of
the country. It’s our duty as the citizens of the Afghanistan to help remove
corruption, report security threats, stand for our rights and fight poverty
On the bright side, we have had the support of
the international community, the United Nations, donors and organizations
throughout the years with training our army, social development, governance,
economic growth, finance, technology and much more. Alongside their continued
support, it does give us a hope of a better future – or if not better, the hope
of sustaining what we have achieved over the last 12 years.
With the presidential election coming
parallel to the withdrawal, the new, energetic president will have a chance to
make change a priority.
The issue of 2014 is not very serious to me.
The love and security one should have for their country should never be doubted
by the change of the president or by the nation taking over its own
self-protection. I count the withdrawal of the international security forces as
a win-win situation for both Afghanistan and the international community. It’s
time we take over and handle our country ourselves.
Meena Alokozai is a
23-year-old Afghan woman studying at the American University of Afghanistan in
Like every other Afghan youth, I am concerned about 2014.
The international troops are leaving Afghanistan without fulfilling their main
goal – eliminating Al- Qaeda and other insurgents in the region. On the
contrary, the suicide attacks by the Taliban in Kabul and other provinces shows
that the Taliban are stronger and more active than before and the peace process
is a failure.
Additionally, Afghanistan is ranked as the most corrupt
country in the world, and the warlords are still as powerful and influential as
they were during the civil war in the 1990s. They have their personal militia
groups, own lands and wealth through which they get the support of the people
in their provinces. On the other hand, the 2014 elections and the rivalry for
the presidency among the political parties have already started.
 There are two
different beliefs among the people about 2014. One is the optimistic approach, that
if international forces leave Afghanistan, the Taliban will also stop fighting
and our dream of having peace will come true. The second one is the realistic
approach that assumes the history will repeat itself in 2014, and we may return
to the era of civil war of the Mujahedin or the totalitarianism of the Taliban.
It is impossible for me to be optimistic because I know that
peace-building is a long-term process that cannot happen in only one year. It
needs fundamental work at the grassroots level and has some pre-requisites: education,
enlightening the people, the creation of a feeling of nationalism, and building
the economy, none of which exists in Afghanistan yet.
So I look to 2014 realistically and feel worried. I see the
nightmares about the conquering of my country by regional powers or their
proxies, and being obliged to sit at home once more.  I am afraid of the day that hundreds of
people may die or be injured in a civil war, and that women will be tortured,
houses will be robbed and buildings will be destroyed again.
Jamshid Nazari of Takhar Taluqan, 35, works in Kabul at the United
Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and studies political science at Kateb
University in Kabul.
As far as I
know, some of the educated people (Political Analysts), senior staff of
government, those who work for International political missions and civil
societies, they have their different views about the above mentioned years. From
my point of view, 2014, with the upcoming presidential election in April, could
be a bit challenging year for Afghanistan. Corruption has become a big concern
for people and that is likely to continue in 2014 and beyond.
Jamshid Nazari
No doubt
even Taliban is getting prepared for managing further organized attacks in
different provinces, mostly in the capital, Kabul, intending to disorder
preparations for the election and particularly the day of polling. Hence, the
people will feel threatened and may not go to the polls to vote.
According to
my perception, the level of optimism is higher than the level of concern, now
it seems the world understands that a small threat in Afghanistan if it’s not
prevented and addressed timely can affect the region and even the entire world.
Therefore, I
believe that by the mercy of Allah and through our national military forces,
together with presence of international troops, especially the U.S. Army
supporting us, we hope to pass the election successfully without too much
As for what
happens after 2014, I think we shouldn’t have much concerns about this issue,
because even a crazy man knows his advantage and disadvantage in the current
situation. The United States of America won’t be so foolish to spend billions
of dollars in this poor country where our yearly incomes still cannot meet six
months expenditures of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. So it shows that the U.S.A.
is interested in having access and taking control of the region. Therefore, I
believe Afghanistan will be used only as a base to fulfill America’s aims
against another country, such as Iran, China, Russia and Pakistan.
Despite the
opposition of regional powers against the continued presence of U.S. forces, it
seems that the U.S. will stay longer.
As a result, we
will benefit from the presence of the United States in Afghanistan. Having the
U.S. here stabilizes the situation and prevents harmful interferences by neighboring
countries, particularly Pakistan and Iran.
But I have
worries about one thing: that we won’t be able to have an independent country in
the future. This is really annoying to those real Afghan patriots who love
their country and never will be ready to sell their country for political
positions or dollars.
Ihsanuddin Taheri is d
irector of the
Government Monitoring and Evaluation Authority in the Office of Administrative
Affairs and Cabinet Secretariat for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
My view as an Afghan citizen living and
working in Afghanistan is positive towards my country in post-2014. We have
capable National Security Forces beside the established government. On the
other side, concerns are always everywhere in the world. 
Problems occur
everywhere; we will be taking part in the upcoming presidential elections as
responsible Afghans to elect a new government with free, fair and transparent
elections. Peace and stability  are
important goals and everyone is hopeful for a peaceful Afghanistan. For that, negotiation
is a must, as instructed by Islamic Shariah law. 
So, by 2014, Afghanistan will
be safe, peaceful, and three aspects of it – peace, elections and transition –
will be the most vital issues that may keep Afghanistan’s prestigious status in
the world.
Ahmad Samir Bayat, a
former newscaster from Kabul with the Ariana International Television Network,
now works in Ukraine.
Ahmad Samir Bayat
Afghanistan after 2014 will be the start of new
opportunities for Afghans. A nation that tasted democracy after 2001, with some
accomplishment and with the presence of international forces, will hopefully
continue to remain stable and preserve the achievements of the last 12 years.
Of course, Afghans are worried about after 2014, when
many of the job opportunities associated with international troops or
organizations will be lost when they depart. But at the same time, Afghanistan
will be building up its own economy and gradually moving towards economic
Another opportunity will be the transfer of security
responsibilities back to the Afghans. When that happens, the Afghan people will
not witness further night air raid killings by international forces. The
withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan in general will support the
self-sufficiency of the country.