What's next after Afghanistan's presidential election? Young Afghans speak on the future

Conversations with young Afghans following the country's presidential election.

By , Staff writer

2. Afghanistan's Osman Habibzai: Sweets and dreams

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    Men lining up to enter a polling station as Afghans defied Taliban threats and voted in record numbers in presidential elections on April 5, 2014, in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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Osman Habibzai dreams of being a journalist, but so far has only a high school degree and tends a sweet shop in Kabul.

“We don’t forecast anything about the future,” says Mr. Habibzai, who is 20 and from the northern Kunduz province. “When you are out of hope, you are afraid of explosions. Now the situation is worse than one year ago.”

Five years from now he wants to finish his education and start work at a radio station or TV channel. Already Afghanistan’s broadcast media scene is packed with channels, but Habibzai says he wants to improve them with more Afghan programming to replace the flood of offerings produced in India, Turkey and the US.

“I want to help the country,” he says. “I want to make it better.”

Habibzai wears sideburns and a traditional wool blanket over his clothes, as he sits in an ice cream shop sipping an energy drink. His hands are active when he talks, his words coming from a narrow, young face.

“We can reflect the thoughts of our people for the rest of the world, and inform them,” says Habibzai, about the Afghan journalist’s role in focusing on Afghan culture.

Habibzai says his family’s dinner conversation lately has been all about the election and its long-term impact. His family is in agreement, he says: “If this present government’s officials come again, then we won’t have a good future.”

For him, that future is partly colored by the past, and an event in 2009 that caused him more grief than any other. German forces called in a US airstrike in Kunduz, killing more than 90. Seven of the dead were family members of close friends.

“The Germans said, ‘We made a mistake,’” recalls Habibzai. “God knows whether they did it deliberately or not. The society and our family hate them because of that.”

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