Pul-e-Jawan, which literally means “bridges of youth” in Dari, Urdu and Hindi, is a group of regional peace building and active youth from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. In September 2011, Internews, Afghanistan took initiative and invited five citizen journalists with an interest in peace and reconciliation issues from each of the above countries (a total of fifteen people) to meet in Kabul.
The aim of Pul-e-Jawan is to provide an exchange for the youth and to bridge any gaps and issues between the three countries. When we met in Kabul back in September (I am a member of the team) we took part in a forum on security and we met with policymakers, NGO representatives, academics, journalists and other senior experts in the field. There were five groups of three (in each group there was one Afghan, one pakistani and one Indian) and each group worked to make presentations on an issue of their interest. One of the presentations that my team worked on was a comparison of state universities with private universities.
For preparing this presentation, our team visited Kabul University and American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) and we interview students from both universities. AUAF is a very expensive university and not a lot of Afghans can afford going to there. After interviewing, I asked a student there if the future leadership of Afghanistan will go to the sons and nephews of the corrupt commanders and other officials or to them (those who are getting the best education in Afghanistan). He answered, “excuse me!?”. My father is a commander. I was kind of expecting that answer but I still wanted to hear it from him. That was a Pul-e-Jawan experience.
In addition to discussing peace and reconciliation in the region, Pul-e-Jawan was a great networking opportunity for us. We worked eight hours everyday and spent most of the evenings going out and eating Afghan foods in restaurants of Kabul. One evening we all went to a restaurant called “Sufi” and sang everyone took turn and sang a song in their own language. The rest of the group would try to sing along.
Pul-e-Jawan has a website and a Facebook page where we post and discuss issues that are common in the three countries.
Pul-e-Jawan website: http://pulejawan.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/254234317940298/