After 18 years of war,Afghan youth dejected but hopeful

The US invasion of Afghanistan toppled Taliban from power in October 2001 but since then, tens of thousands of civilians and security forces have been killed as the country descended into a civil war.

The US invaded Afghanistan after blaming the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, who was the alleged architect of the 9/11 attacks.

In the past 18 years, gender rights have improved, with more girls attending schools and women joining the workforce and entering politics – but the security situation remains precarious for common Afghans.

Young Afghans, in particular, have grown under the shadow of conflict, with both the US-backed government as well as the Taliban blamed for the rising civilian casualties.

“The war has touched everyone and everything here, even me. I have lost family, and a dear friend died in my arms,” said Mohammad Tahir Basharyar, who turned 18 less than two months ago.

However, Basharyar admits that in contrast to the life his parents had lived under the Taliban, things are different, even better in certain aspects.

“During the Taliban period, people lived in poverty, and women were not allowed outside their homes. There was no access to modern science, no political stability, no freedom of expression, and no connection to the outside world,” Basharyar, who hails from Helmand province, told Al Jazeera.

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