Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Political Landscape

Another High Council, for ‘Our’ Youth

Thomas Ruttig 2 min

After the big success of the High Peace Council, the sequel follows suit: After a two-day ‘General Assembly’ in the Loya Jirga tent in Kabul, a National Youth High Council has been formed. Reading its final press release, it sounds as if it has been organized by the Afghan government itself. Is it now claiming control over ‘civil society’ too?

From 30 October to 1 November, the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture ‘hosted the first ever Youth General Assembly of the elected representatives of [the] Youth High Council in Kabul’ with ‘more than 106 youth representatives including 37 girls [sic!] from 34 provinces’ participating. They ‘discussed their role as elected representatives of Youth High Council for nation building’ and their ‘support in making future leaders of Afghanistan’.

Elected by whom? Maybe, the government. The quoted statement left that open.

As the press release continued, the deputy minister ‘briefed the participant on the objectives of Youth High Council’. He also ‘tabled’ the final resolution with ‘the structure and functions of youth council’. The youth council ‘will endeavor to work for peace building, community development, promoting volunteerism, strengthening democracy and will also emphasise the ‘role of gender in nation building’. It is planned to establish such councils down to the village level ‘through election[s]’.
Thanks goodness, ‘youth representatives were given the chance to speak in the conference’ also and to ‘say what are the problems and opportunities available in their provinces’. ‘Under the leadership of Deputy Minister [Timur Shah] Eshaqzai’, they called upon President Hamid Karzai who also offered ‘full support’. Then, ‘[t]he youth assembly finished with [the] distribution of certificates and gifts’.

The ‘international community’ – representatives of ISAF, the US Embassy and the UN were reportedly attending – seems to have no problems with such an approach and even applauds. A US Embassy official ‘thanked’ the assembled young people – if one can trust the press release – ‘for being elected’ and pledged the full support of his country ‘for follow up activities’. Even General David Petraeus addressed the closing ceremony and encouraged the participants – in Pashto – to ‘stand tall and stand together – shana ba shana – in support of fellow Afghans and the new Afghanistan’.

Most likely, the National Youth High Council was handpicked like its elder brother, the High Peace Council. With its envisioned country-wide structure, it looks a bit like a youth wing of ASOP (Afghanistan Social Outreach Program) – or might have been copied from the pro-Putin youth organizationNashi (‘Ours’). I recently have learned an acronym for such type of gathering: GONGO – ‘government-organised non-governmental organisation’.

The understanding of some basic concepts like ‘civil society’, ‘voluntarism’, ‘independence’ and ‘democracy’ really still needs to develop in Afghanistan’s governing circles.

It is another case for Saadi and his Gulestan:

ترسم نرسی به کعبه ای اعرابی
کین ره که تو میروی به ترکستان ااست

I fear you won’t get to the Ka’aba, oh traveler,
The way you are going leads to Turkestan.



Democratization National Youth Council Youth