The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), in partnership with the Afghanistan Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) and Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC), sponsored the first Afghan Youth Congress in Kabul from Monday, April 5 – Thursday, April 8, 2010.
The 4-day event, titled “Youth: The Pulse of a Drug-Free Afghanistan,” drew 90 participants, including 35 young women, from 32 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. In addition, 10 international students from South and Central Asian countries participated in the youth leadership event, which brought together provincial delegates for a series of public information workshops and leadership trainings. At the end of the Congress, delegates drafted and signed a pact to stay drug-free, united behind the goal of a drug-free Afghanistan, and pledged to serve as positive examples within their communities and provinces.
In his remarks during the closing ceremony on Thursday, MoIC Minister Sayed Mahkdoom Rahim urged the students to restore the culture and pride in Afghanistan. “We used to be pioneers, known for our culture, for math and science. Now we are known for drug trafficking and production,” he said. “Only the youth can clean this dark stain.”
MCN Minister Zarar Ahmad Moqbel thanked the students for their participation. “Afghan youth should only spread happiness, joy, culture, and goodness – this is your responsibility,” he said.
INL Director Drew Quinn, from U.S. Embassy Kabul, also delivered remarks at the closing ceremony.