ERIN E. NIEMELA – While the U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement is supposed to ensure a secure and sovereign Afghanistan beyond the U.S. withdrawal in 2014, it does not take into account the opinions of those who will most likely be affected by its implementation â€“ the Afghan people. Without their support, the partnership is more likely to inhibit the realization of a peaceful and secure Afghanistan.
KATHY KELLY – Kabul– Khamad Jan, age 22, remembers that, as a youngster, he was a good student who enjoyed studying. â€œNow, I canâ€™t seem to think,â€ he said sadly, looking at the ground. There was a long pause. â€œWar does this to your mind.â€
DAVID SMITH-FERRI – Bamiyan Province in Afghanistan, a stunningly beautiful mountainous region, is located in the center of the country, roughly 100 miles from Kabul. Most people here live in small, autonomous villages tucked into high mountain valleys, and work dawn to dusk just to scratch out a meager living as subsistence farmers, shepherds, or goatherds. The central government in Kabul and the regional government in Bamiyan City exercise little or no control over their lives. They govern themselves, and live for the most part in isolation.
Given this, who would imagine that Afghan youth from small villages across Bamiyan Province would come together to form a tight-knit, resilient, and effective group of peace activists, with a growing network of contacts and support that includes youth in other parts of the country and peace activists in the U.S. and in Palestine?