Afghanistan's Election: The Generational Divide

Registered voters ages 18 to 25 range from 8 million to 10 million, out of a total of 17 million. Can they make a difference?

Mikhail Galustov / Redux

"I decided to run because people in politics today are the same old faces. I wanted to be the candidate with new ideas."

Muhammad Shafiq Popal is one of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's more formidable opponents — yet he isn't a chieftain, a warlord or even a candidate in the Aug. 20 Afghanistan presidential election. Just 30 years old, Popal is a rare individual in the country: a community organizer who heads the Afghanistan Youth National and Social Organization (AYNSO), an NGO that, in a nation marked by division, transcends religion, ethnicity and tribe. AYNSO's broad objective is to promote democracy and human rights. But Popal's current objective is much more specific: mobilizing AYNSO's 32,000 members to unseat Karzai, who he believes has done...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!