100 years of Afghanistan media, challenges, ups & downs

By: Suraya Raiszada

The Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) is going to launch a scientific seminar on Afghanistan media and law on the threshold of marking 100th anniversary of the country’s Independence Day. Related to aim and agenda of holding the seminar, deputy minister of publication affairs for information and culture Sayed Fazil Sancharaki in an exclusive interview with The Kabul Times correspondent said: “Based on verdict of presidential office, it is determined that a range of programs are going to be held to mark the 100 anniversary of the country’s Independence Day.”
He said that all ministries and government institutions would have their own programs to mark the 100th anniversary of the country’s Independence Day, adding that the ministry of information and culture would also have a range of programs.
“Deputy ministry of publication affairs for information and culture will have a range of programs, but one of them is to hold a scientific seminar on Afghanistan media during the course of the past 100 years (1919 – 2019),” Sancharaki said, adding that the ministry wants to review ups and downs of media during the past 100 years.
Pointing to media activities in the past 100 years, deputy minister of publication affairs said the first law on press and media called ‘Nezamnama’ was approved during the government of King Amanullah Khan, stressing that media development during the government of King Amanullah Khan was better as the new law on media had somehow opened door to freedom of media in the country and printing and publication of newspapers and magazines were allowed under the framework of relevant laws.
Sancharaki further said that there had been only print media and few government and private media organizations operating during the government of King Amanullah Khan as quality of printing was traditional and primarily, while today fortunately there were hundreds of printing publications, dozens of radios and TV channels operating in the country.
“There are now active news agencies working in the field of giving awareness to the people. Meanwhile, we have online news agencies and the people are able to make use of all means to make themselves aware of what happens in the country and world,” Sancharaki said, adding that although there were not enough possibilities for printing like today, print media operation was unprecedented in the region during the government of King Amanullah Khan.
Pointing to a range of good works and efforts made towards freedom of expression during the era of King Amanullah Khan, deputy minister of publication affairs said Serajul Akhbar, which was a standard newspaper with very high contents, was published.
“Following publication of Serajul Akhbar, Serajul Atfal was published for children, which was a good initiative. In the meantime, ‘Ershadun Neswan’ was published for women and all were being published by the government,” Sancharaki said, adding that there were some private print media organizations during the era of King Amanullah Khan.
Related to changes media of Afghanistan has experienced in the past few decades, deputy minister of publication affairs for information and culture said: “During 1919 – 1929, we had a good environment for media in Afghanistan as there were freedoms and media could openly operate in the country, but after the era of King Amanullah Khan, we faced with a partially dark era as media and press got weaken and lost its position.”
He added that media in Afghanistan had not open operation during the era of Nadir Khan, saying that there were only government print media operating in the country.
“During the decade of democracy, meaning during the era of Mohammad Zahir Shah, we witnessed increasing development and operation of open media in Afghanistan as political parties and influenced figures had media agencies. In the meantime, government media was also active; therefore, we can say that it was a very good time for media during the kingdom of Mohammad Zahir,” Sancharaki said.
He added that media had no good time during the era of Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan, The People’s Democratic Party, Dr. Najibullah, Mujahidin and Taliban regime.
Considering the past 18 years as big changes in Afghanistan media, deputy minister of publication affairs for information and culture said they witnessed numerous print, audio-visual and other media operating in the country and their operations were increasing day by day.
He hoped that media development in Afghanistan could keep its status in particular from point of quality and quantity and not harm national processes such as peace process, democratic values, freedom of expression and open media operation in the country.

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