29 Jan 2017
Writer: Habib Viqar

Jobs can stop the exodus

Among the army of unemployed youth in Afghanistan are graduates from universities who say it is contacts and not education that counts for jobs.
Mohammad Karim, a graduate from the journalism faculty at Kabul University says he has knocked on countless doors for a job in the media industry and government. "What is the benefit of studying hard for 16 years?" he asks. "No one considers me eligible even for a petty government job."
Hazrat Wali has graduated from Kandahar University two years ago and he has failed to get regular work. He says he goes to Kabul's Chawk (square) to find daily work. "After graduation I put together all my documents; I hoped to get a government job. I was unaware that I can never be employed without waseta (support). I passed three exams for three posts in the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development – the questions were very easy, and I solved them correctly. But I never got a call. You have to know someone (to get appointed); your documents and what you graduated in do not matter."
Hekmatullah Asify is also a Kandahar University graduate looking for work. "I worked for an FM radio for one month but the salary was not enough even for my rent and other expenditures. I applied for government posts and asked when the results would be announced. They said I had no work experience. How will I get experience if I do not get a chance to work? The government should provide work for new graduates."
Joblessness increased when a majority of foreign organisations either scaled down or closed their offices in Afghanistan in the last year of the Hamid Karzai presidency. In addition, the long-drawn presidential poll in 2014 worsened political uncertainty and impacted investment and business. Many young Afghans left the country in search of work – a trend that has swelled since.
Hamid Malakzai has studied economics in a private university. For a year and a half he has searched for work. Now he says he wants to go to Iran and work there. "Had I known that studies would not help me I would not have wasted 16 years (studying)," he says. Blaming corruption for the plight of young people like him, he complains, "There is no justice or equality here. You may have 20 years experience and five masters' degrees, but if you do not know someone you would never get a position."
Missing generations
Civil society is concerned about the thousands of young Afghans, some merely children, who are undertaking perilous journeys in the hope of finding a future in the west, in Europe and beyond. It is a tragedy since Afghanistan has already lost generations to war.
Mohammadullah Jaheed, lecturer at Shifa private university wants the government to make job creation a priority in order to stop the exodus of youth. "They go not just to Europe; when they cannot earn money through legitimate means they turn to violence and crime; they become gunmen fighting someone else's battle somewhere," he says. There are media reports that Iran's Revolutionary Guard has been recruiting Afghan migrants, and citizens of some other countries, to fight alongside the Syrian army.
Mohammad Qahir Wardak, civil society activist, considers it the government's responsibility to solve the acute scarcity of jobs in Afghanistan. "All problems are due to joblessness," he believes. "Where did the 3 million addicts come from; why is crime on the rise? If a person has work and families are self-sufficient, the person need not turn to addiction and crime," he says.

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