This event featuring three Asia 21 Young Leaders—Saad Mohseni and Aarya Nijat from Afghanistan; Faiysal AliKhan from Pakistan—underscored reasons for a more hopeful future for Afghanistan, contrary to what the mainstream media tend to portray in their coverage. Asia Society trustee and Chairman of the Board, ONE Campaign Tom Freston moderated the discussion.
To a large extent, the three speakers attribute their optimism to the young Afghans—two thirds of the country is under the age of 25—and how they continually endeavor to bring forth change and transform Afghanistan. Another core agent of change is the role of media in emphasizing the importance of democratic practice and rejection of the Taliban. As Saad Mohseni, Chairman and Chief Executive of MOBY Group elaborated, the media had taken it upon itself to ensure that the elections took place in a timely and inclusive manner. “It became almost a referendum on the Taliban,” Saad suggested. “Courage is about being scared but still doing the right thing,” he added, alluding to the exceptionally large voter turnout on April 5th. Aarya and Faiysal were equally appreciative of the contribution of media. Aarya recognized the ‘breathing space’ that the media, civil society, and volunteer organizations such as Asia 21 have provided the young Afghan population. “People in Afghanistan want to show the world that it is not the same country it is perceived as,” said Faiysal, who had unique opportunity to witness this up close and personal as he traversed the country and interacted with Afghans from all walks of lives, earlier in the month.
Watch the full event here to hear what these amazing young leaders have to say about Afghanistan’s new generation, the prospects for establishing a common ground with the Taliban, and what comes next.
Photos from the event: