Powerful images capture the effect years of war has had on Afghanistan's children as they pose with rifles, play with spent shells and clamber over tanks

A remarkable new collection of photographs has revealed a glimpse into one of the world's most mysterious, war-torn countries and the faces of the generation which will help decide its future.
Pieter-Jan De Pue spent seven years in Afghanistan capturing images of its people and culture, with a particular focus on the country's children and the effect that years of continuous war has had on them.
Many of the pictures display jarring contrasts of the innocence of childhood juxtaposed with the realities of war: A group of youngsters struggle to hold real rifles, rather than toys; two boys build castles out of spent tank shells; children play games while clambering over Soviet-era tanks.
Photographer Pieter-Jan De Pue spent seven years in Afghanistan photographing its people and culture, including the children who will help decide its future. Pictured are (left to right) Mohammed Isa, Gholam Nasir, Khyrgyz Baj, Ali Barsh, Fais Mohammed, Band Ali,Deh Khan and Askar Khan, seen with their rifles in Badakhshan province, winter 2014
Photographer Pieter-Jan De Pue spent seven years in Afghanistan photographing its people and culture, including the children who will help decide its future. Pictured are (left to right) Mohammed Isa, Gholam Nasir, Khyrgyz Baj, Ali Barsh, Fais Mohammed, Band Ali,Deh Khan and Askar Khan, seen with their rifles in Badakhshan province, winter 2014
A group of Khyrgyz children are building a castle withempty Russian cartridges and shells inside a former Soviet army outpost. The remains of the former outpost became one of the main filming locations for The Land of the Enlightened, a film which De Pue directed alongside his picture projects
A group of Khyrgyz children are building a castle withempty Russian cartridges and shells inside a former Soviet army outpost. The remains of the former outpost became one of the main filming locations for The Land of the Enlightened, a film which De Pue directed alongside his picture projects
Two Sisters pictured holding hands in a corn field near their home in Daikundi province. De Pue said that, while war has changed large parts of the country including the capital Kabul, out in the countryside much had remained unchanged from photos he remembers seeing of the country in the 1980s
Two Sisters pictured holding hands in a corn field near their home in Daikundi province. De Pue said that, while war has changed large parts of the country including the capital Kabul, out in the countryside much had remained unchanged from photos he remembers seeing of the country in the 1980s 
A group of Kuchi boys are stripping pieces of metal from former Soviet tanks, abandoned by the Red Army and later used again by the Mudjaheddin under the command of Ahmad Shah Massoud in their fight for control over the plains of Shomali
A group of Kuchi boys are stripping pieces of metal from former Soviet tanks, abandoned by the Red Army and later used again by the Mudjaheddin under the command of Ahmad Shah Massoud in their fight for control over the plains of Shomali
A disabled Kuchi boy digs out an anti-tank mine in a former Soviet mine field. Nearby Bagram air base was the main hub of the Soviet Army during the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, before it became the largest air base of the US Army in 2001
A disabled Kuchi boy digs out an anti-tank mine in a former Soviet mine field. Nearby Bagram air base was the main hub of the Soviet Army during the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, before it became the largest air base of the US Army in 2001
A Khyrgyz girl is seen doing the laundry in Badakhshan province. The Khyrgyz are a ethic Turkic group that are centered in Kyrgyzstan but are present in at least eight other countries, with a small population of around 1,000 in Afghanistan
A Khyrgyz girl is seen doing the laundry in Badakhshan province. The Khyrgyz are a ethic Turkic group that are centered in Kyrgyzstan but are present in at least eight other countries, with a small population of around 1,000 in Afghanistan
Children who have collected empty bullet casings are trading the brass for other items at the US Army observation post in Bari Alai, Kunar province. Here, they are pictured bartering with an Afghan soldier for water
Children who have collected empty bullet casings are trading the brass for other items at the US Army observation post in Bari Alai, Kunar province. Here, they are pictured bartering with an Afghan soldier for water
A group of boys returning home after having been working at a stone-bakery site on the outskirts of Kabul in the summer of 2010. While this is a moment of relative peace, these children have never known an Afghanistan that was not at war
A group of boys returning home after having been working at a stone-bakery site on the outskirts of Kabul in the summer of 2010. While this is a moment of relative peace, these children have never known an Afghanistan that was not at war
Robinat, the daughter of mountain guide Malang Darya who helped De Pue along his travels, is seen harvesting wheat in Qasideh village, Badakhshan province
Robinat, the daughter of mountain guide Malang Darya who helped De Pue along his travels, is seen harvesting wheat in Qasideh village, Badakhshan province
'I was touched by seeing 'the other Afghanistan' which is scarred by a war that has been going on for more than forty years,' he explained.
'Therefore it was a great shock for me when I first ended up in Afghanistan that, in spite of the war and the quickly changing Kabul, there was so much preserved on the countryside of what I had encountered through the photos by [Roland and Sabrina Michaud, who photographed the country in the 1980s].
'The war left its traces, both in the scenery and in the people who lived in the most remote areas.
'Of course the risk of stepping on a land mine or of running into Taliban militia created a different atmosphere than before the war.
'But just like the Michauds half a century ago I was impressed by space and time, I discovered another way of thinking with the inhabitants and experienced a distinct spirituality.
'In Afghanistan you can see a simplicity, a simplicity that is simply beautiful.'
The photographs were published as thousands of prominent Afghans gathered in the capital Kabul for talks on how to approach peace negotiations with the Taliban.
President Ashraf Ghani hopes to showcase unity at the four-day meeting - known as Loya Jirga - that brings together politicians, tribal elders and others.
An exhausted Afghan border guard is returning from a borderpatrol near the Afghan - Chinese border. Afghanistan shares a very short land border with China, in the far east of the country, at the end of the Wakhan Corridor. The border is crossed at a single point, Wakhjir Pass, which is thought to have formed part of the old Silk Road
An exhausted Afghan border guard is returning from a borderpatrol near the Afghan - Chinese border. Afghanistan shares a very short land border with China, in the far east of the country, at the end of the Wakhan Corridor. The border is crossed at a single point, Wakhjir Pass, which is thought to have formed part of the old Silk Road
A unit of the Afghan army waits for an air-lift from Camp Clark to their operation zone beside the Pakistani border. Afghanistan's longest border is shared Pakistan, running through tribal hill areas that have long been a stronghold for Islamist fighters and their supporters
A unit of the Afghan army waits for an air-lift from Camp Clark to their operation zone beside the Pakistani border. Afghanistan's longest border is shared Pakistan, running through tribal hill areas that have long been a stronghold for Islamist fighters and their supporters
Workers helping to build a new road on behalf of French NGO Madera wait in line to receive their salaries in Taywarrah district, Ghor province, in winter 2008. Since 2002, more than $126billion has been assigned to help rebuild Afghanistan by the US alone in the hopes of transforming the country into a stable democracy, but efforts have largely failed
Workers helping to build a new road on behalf of French NGO Madera wait in line to receive their salaries in Taywarrah district, Ghor province, in winter 2008. Since 2002, more than $126billion has been assigned to help rebuild Afghanistan by the US alone in the hopes of transforming the country into a stable democracy, but efforts have largely failed
A bed is installed on a location where a summer nomad village should be located. Because the village was relocated for an unknown reason, a bed - complete with blankets and a pillow - was left behind by the group so that visitors unaware of the move would have a place to stay
A bed is installed on a location where a summer nomad village should be located. Because the village was relocated for an unknown reason, a bed - complete with blankets and a pillow - was left behind by the group so that visitors unaware of the move would have a place to stay
Members of a remote Afghan community receive help to dig a new well in a project implemented by French NGO Madera. The organisation has been working in Afghanistan since 1988 to support tribal communities and empower them to advance themselves and provide for those living within their own territories
Members of a remote Afghan community receive help to dig a new well in a project implemented by French NGO Madera. The organisation has been working in Afghanistan since 1988 to support tribal communities and empower them to advance themselves and provide for those living within their own territories
The hands of a young Waghi shepherd working in the Wakhan corridor, in Badakhshan province, are seen in winter 2012
The hands of a young Waghi shepherd working in the Wakhan corridor, in Badakhshan province, are seen in winter 2012
A young Khyrgyz girl watches unknown guests arriving to her settlement at Ghash Kosh summer camp, in the Wakhan corridor, Badakhshan province, some time in summer 2007
A young Khyrgyz girl watches unknown guests arriving to her settlement at Ghash Kosh summer camp, in the Wakhan corridor, Badakhshan province, some time in summer 2007
Pieter-Jan De Pue, inspired by the photographs of Roland and Sabrina Michaud, who visited Afghanistan in the 1980s, spent seven years in the country capturing the lives and culture of its people for a photo series and a film

Pieter-Jan De Pue, inspired by the photographs of Roland and Sabrina Michaud, who visited Afghanistan in the 1980s, spent seven years in the country capturing the lives and culture of its people for a photo series and a film
But Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, his partner in a unity government brokered by the United States after a bitterly disputed election in 2014, heads a list of no-shows.
Ghani's peace envoy Omar Daudzai said they had expected about 2,500 attendees but more than 3,200 gathered for the first day of the Loya Jirga, which ends on Thursday. They delegates will be divided into groups and committees and discuss negotiating points for future talks with the Taliban.
"We are all here to talk about the framework of peace talks with the Taliban ... reaching a sustainable peace is very important to us," said Ghani in his welcome address to delegates.
Waving a copy of Afghanistan's constitution, Ghani lauded it as the most Islamic of constitutions - an apparent message to the Taliban who have suggested they want to negotiate articles within the charter, without specifying.
In several rounds of talks with the Taliban, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has narrowed the gaps on a deal under which U.S. forces would withdraw in return for guarantees that Afghanistan not revert to a haven for international terrorists. But Khalilzad has struggled to get Afghans to agree on a roadmap for the country's future.
The Taliban have refused to directly talk to Kabul representatives, viewing the government as a U.S. puppet.
Powerful images capture the effect years of war has had on Afghanistan's children as they pose with rifles, play with spent shells and clamber over tanks Powerful images capture the effect years of war has had on Afghanistan's children as they pose with rifles, play with spent shells and clamber over tanks Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 08:52 Rating: 5

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