Sitting in his male splendor shop, 25-12 months-old Zabihullah longs for peace in Afghanistan — but now not one that might see spiritual police beating human beings within the streets for his or her hairstyles or clothing.
He recalled working in a barbershop as a baby below Taliban rule. “I remember the Taliban spiritual police could each day convey younger men for his or her hair to be shaven off as a punishment because they dared to fashion it,” he says, his very own hair lengthy and tied again with a bow.
Today it is a one-of-a-kind tale, and The Saloon — one of many such beauty parlors which have sprung up in urban Afghanistan for the reason that Taliban were deposed in 2001 — buzzes with modern customers seeking the today’s Western patterns while loud pop track performs inside the history.
Afghanistan’s expected 35 million humans are overwhelmingly younger, with nearly -thirds of the population under the age of 25. Millions have grown up in cities swollen by using refugees during the years of fighting.
Zabihullah is part of this city generation — newshounds and activists, models, hairstylists and social media stars — who’ve come of age alienated from Taliban rule and beliefs.
But as talks among Washington and the Taliban geared toward finishing the lengthy struggle progress, they face the prospect of a peace that may hand the militants some semblance of energy in Afghanistan — and they’re afraid.
“I don’t want a place where I could lose my freedoms,” Zabihullah says.
Youth activist Mohammad Anil Qasemi became a student on the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul whilst the Taliban attacked the campus in 2016.
One militant threw a hand grenade in his classroom, killing lots of his friends. The blast wave threw him out of the second one-ground window. He survived, however with severe head, stomach and leg wounds.
Now, as he watches the development of talks between Washington and the Taliban in Doha, he fears his era will now not have a say in what comes subsequently.
“I am organized to forgive the Taliban for what they did to me and my classmates… but I can’t bargain on the liberty and achievements of my technology,” he told AFP.
The stance of younger urbanites like Qasemi and Zabihullah contrasts with some of the older technology, who have certainly lived thru extra years of conflict — Afghanistan has seen almost regular conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979 — and crave any respite.
“I am organized to grow returned my beard, as the Taliban desires,” says 50-yr-old Haji Ahmad Shah, a customer in a Kabul shopping center.
“I have misplaced many buddies and circle of relatives on this battle, I just want an quiet to it,” he provides.
Then there’s Afghanistan’s rural-city divide.
Some young human beings living inside the countryside — wherein deeply conservative, patriarchal traditions stand in stark evaluation to the relative cosmopolitanism of places like Kabul — appear greater willingness to accept Taliban regulations to achieve peace.
Faridullah, a 23-year-antique gardener in rural Kandahar, is highly liberal, shaving his beard and listening to the song.
If the Taliban come, he says, he might also lose the one’s freedoms — “but it’s far ok, as I want protection. For now, I can’t even go to my gardens, due to the fact they were closely mined.”
Adapting for peace
The Taliban say they’ve moderated their stance on some social issues, though those dwelling under their rule has told AFP in any other case.
The group has no longer spelled out what function it desires to play in Afghan governance and civil society, other than to mention it desires an “Islamic machine”.
Young women, keenly aware of how their gender was banished in the back of doorways and under burkas beneath Taliban rule, are the various maximum vocal in caution they’ll now not compromise their rights.
“For the Taliban, seeing a female presenter on TV is intolerable, and for me losing my freedom and rights as a lady is intolerable,” said 21-12 months-vintage Diba, a newsreader for Afghanistan’s Zan TV.
“I would possibly have to depart u . S. A. Or dies of melancholy residing below Taliban rule,” she stated.
But a few urban teenagers say they are however willing to make peace at any charge — at the same time as hoping for the pleasant.
Farshad, a 23-12 months-antique salesman with a today’s fade haircut who works at a Kabul store promoting Western suits and fedoras, stated he turned into organized to turn it into a store selling conventional turbans if it intended an end to combat.
“I just desire they don’t contact my haircut,” he says.