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First Person: What Young Afghans Want

Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Wali Sabawoon)
Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Wali Sabawoon)

Our series The Longest War profiles Afghans and Americans impacted by 20 years of war in Afghanistan.

In our final episode, we look forward to what young Afghans want.

People under the age of 25 make up more than 60% of the population of Afghanistan. The median age is about 18.

Afghanistan’s people are young. And most of those young people have grown up with expanded rights for women, a burgeoning media, new technology and opportunities previously unavailable when the Taliban ruled.

But now that the Taliban are back in power, what do young Afghans want for the future of their country? Below, three Afghans share their stories:


My name is Aisha Barakzai.

I’m 19 years old, and I’m from Afghanistan. And I was around 12 years old when I went to Pakistan. … I was around 14 when I came to U.S.

Hopes for the future of Afghanistan

I’m hoping for the future of Afghanistan to change. Otherwise, all Afghan women and children will not have any future left.

People would be walking down the street without being scared.

The world will be shocked by how brave Afghan people were, and how brave Afghans are.


My name is Dr. Iman Ahmad-Sediqe.

I am 33 years old. I’m a refugee myself. My parents left in the ’80s during the Soviet invasion.

Hopes for the future of Afghanistan

My hope for the future of Afghanistan is it feels somewhat like a fairy tale. The fairy tale that was told to me as a bedtime story of the beautiful mountains, the beautiful fields, the huge, huge fields of grapes, the delicious fruits, the hustle and bustle of the streets, the kindness and generosity of the people.

It is a dream of a place where the people can live the true meaning of the word salaam. Meaning peace, everlasting peace.


My name is Sana Safi.

I am 32 years old. I was born in Afghanistan in 1989. I was seven years old when I went to school, and I was told that the Taliban say ‘girls can’t come in.’

Hopes for the future of Afghanistan

For Afghanistan, I want them to be self-sufficient. I want them to have the food, the shelter, the safety to live in and enjoy their lives.

A country that they want for themselves. A country that they’re comfortable in. A country that can provide them safety, security. And that they’re happy in.

Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity. 


We featured many voices in our series The Longest War, from women to military veterans to a member of Congress. Listen back here.

And while you’re here: What would you like us to explore in the future? Email us at onpoint@wbur.org.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.