Photos: Afghanistan’s youth wary of future with the Taliban

Afghanistan has a strikingly young population, with more than 60% of its 35 million people under the age of 25, and half under the age of 15. Its Generation Z has grown up in a 17-year window shadowed by warfare, but now faces an uncertain future and the possibility of stark change. Peace talks between the United States and Taliban are ramping up and for villagers in rural Afghanistan, where traditional ways have always counted for more than central government law, life may not change much. But for the young of Kabul and other cities, there is much to lose, in particular the freedoms restored after the Taliban were ousted - from playing music, to modelling and adopting trendy haircuts - which they've grown up with.

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2019 03:51 PM IST 10 Photos
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Model Sultan Qasim Sayeedi, 18, in Kabul. Sayeedi scours Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to learn about fashion and modelling and draws inspiration from his favourite models. “We’re afraid that if the Taliban come then we will not be able to hold our shows,” he said. Despite that wariness, Sultan says it’s time the fighting ended. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

Model Sultan Qasim Sayeedi, 18, in Kabul. Sayeedi scours Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to learn about fashion and modelling and draws inspiration from his favourite models. “We’re afraid that if the Taliban come then we will not be able to hold our shows,” he said. Despite that wariness, Sultan says it’s time the fighting ended. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2019 03:51 PM IST
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Maram Atayee, 16, is a pianist at the Afghan National Institute of Music. “The thing I'm most worried about is that if they return, I'll not be able to continue playing music,” Atayee said. “It will be great if the government and the Taliban reach a peace deal. At that time there should be access to music for everyone and women’s rights must be protected.” (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

Maram Atayee, 16, is a pianist at the Afghan National Institute of Music. “The thing I'm most worried about is that if they return, I'll not be able to continue playing music,” Atayee said. “It will be great if the government and the Taliban reach a peace deal. At that time there should be access to music for everyone and women’s rights must be protected.” (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2019 03:51 PM IST
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Anosh Sarwari, 23, works at a coffee shop in Kabul. “We are thirsty for peace. We want peace so people can run their businesses and live comfortably,” Sarwari said. Afghanistan’s Generation Z has grown up in a 17-year window shadowed by warfare and a heavy international presence, but now faces an uncertain future and the possibility of stark change. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

Anosh Sarwari, 23, works at a coffee shop in Kabul. “We are thirsty for peace. We want peace so people can run their businesses and live comfortably,” Sarwari said. Afghanistan’s Generation Z has grown up in a 17-year window shadowed by warfare and a heavy international presence, but now faces an uncertain future and the possibility of stark change. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2019 03:51 PM IST
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Singer Wasim Anwari, 19, at the Afghan Star talent show at Tolo television studio in Kabul. “Peace means a lot to me so I can carry on with my artistry but without peace there is no hope for a better future,” Anwari said. Peace talks between the United States and Taliban are ramping up, which could see the hardline group take on a formal role in government. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

Singer Wasim Anwari, 19, at the Afghan Star talent show at Tolo television studio in Kabul. “Peace means a lot to me so I can carry on with my artistry but without peace there is no hope for a better future,” Anwari said. Peace talks between the United States and Taliban are ramping up, which could see the hardline group take on a formal role in government. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2019 03:51 PM IST
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Kawsar Sherzad, 17, a Muay Thai athlete, seen at a club in Kabul. “Afghan females have had a lot of achievements in sports so I am optimistic that the Taliban will accept these achievements,” Sherzad said. When the Taliban were last in power, they gained global notoriety for a harsh regime that forced women and girls to stay at home, restricted music and sports and imposed brutal punishments on infractions. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

Kawsar Sherzad, 17, a Muay Thai athlete, seen at a club in Kabul. “Afghan females have had a lot of achievements in sports so I am optimistic that the Taliban will accept these achievements,” Sherzad said. When the Taliban were last in power, they gained global notoriety for a harsh regime that forced women and girls to stay at home, restricted music and sports and imposed brutal punishments on infractions. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2019 03:51 PM IST
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Hairdresser Hussain, 19, at a hair saloon in Kabul. “I am optimistic about the Taliban joining the peace process,” said Hussain, who like many young Afghans grew up in neighbouring Iran where millions have taken refuge from war. “It will be an end to the war and conflicts in our country. I want the Taliban to change their policy and not behave like before.” (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

Hairdresser Hussain, 19, at a hair saloon in Kabul. “I am optimistic about the Taliban joining the peace process,” said Hussain, who like many young Afghans grew up in neighbouring Iran where millions have taken refuge from war. “It will be an end to the war and conflicts in our country. I want the Taliban to change their policy and not behave like before.” (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2019 03:51 PM IST
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Freelance journalist Zainab Farahmand, 22, in Kabul. “We will only welcome the Taliban if they accept democracy and its values in the country,” Farahmand said. More recently, women have now adopted a more moderate tone, including pledges on rights for women and girls’ education, appeals for support from foreign aid groups and promises to maintain good international relations. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

Freelance journalist Zainab Farahmand, 22, in Kabul. “We will only welcome the Taliban if they accept democracy and its values in the country,” Farahmand said. More recently, women have now adopted a more moderate tone, including pledges on rights for women and girls’ education, appeals for support from foreign aid groups and promises to maintain good international relations. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2019 03:51 PM IST
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Afghan model Omid Arman, 21, poses for a picture in Kabul. “Everyone has the desire for peace in this country. We’ve witnessed a lot of conflicts, it’s enough, we don’t want to be witnesses for any more tragedy,” Arman said. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

Afghan model Omid Arman, 21, poses for a picture in Kabul. “Everyone has the desire for peace in this country. We’ve witnessed a lot of conflicts, it’s enough, we don’t want to be witnesses for any more tragedy,” Arman said. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2019 03:51 PM IST
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Zarghona Haidari, 22, works at a book store in Shahr Ketab Centre, in Kabul. “I'm not very much optimistic about peace in this country. I don’t think the Taliban will make a deal with the government,” Haidari said. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

Zarghona Haidari, 22, works at a book store in Shahr Ketab Centre, in Kabul. “I'm not very much optimistic about peace in this country. I don’t think the Taliban will make a deal with the government,” Haidari said. (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2019 03:51 PM IST
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Doctor Mohammad Jawed Momand, 22 said, “Peace requires everyone to lay down their arms and think about the education and prosperity in the country.” (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

Doctor Mohammad Jawed Momand, 22 said, “Peace requires everyone to lay down their arms and think about the education and prosperity in the country.” (Mohammad Ismail / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2019 03:51 PM IST
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