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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Day in Afghanistan: Media and comment
Female Afghan journalist
The media landscape has changed since the fall of the Taleban
As part of the BBC News website's One Day in Afghanistan coverage, on 13 September we monitored the country's media for news and comment, and heard about what people were watching on TV, listening to on the radio and reading in the newspapers and online.

This page was hosted by the BBC's Shirazuddin Siddiqi, who also responded to some of your comments and questions.

All times local. Afghanistan is 4.5 hours ahead of GMT.

TOOTH PULLED OUT - 1850 local time

tv image
The village barber gets out a pair of pliers and tries to pull Bolbol's tooth out
Aina television broadcast early evening an episode in the comedy series "Bolbol and Election Day".

Bolbol is in his village suffering from toothache.

The village barber gets out a pair of pliers and tries to pull Bolbol's tooth out.

There is a big struggle, with Bolbol's friends teasing him.

They say "you're not a brave man, making such a fuss about one tooth".

Finally the tooth is pulled out.

tv image
Gulchehra asks whether he has forgotten that today is 'election day'
Gulchehra, a female relative of Bolbol's, comes by and asks whether he has forgotten that today - 18 September - is 'election day'.

Bolbol and his friends get on their donkeys and head off to vote. Along the way they ask other villagers if they know that today is 'election day'.

Some know, but others don't.

CARTOON FILM - 1810 local time

Aina TV broadcast an Iranian film which was followed by a news bulletin in the Turkmen language.

The news bulletin was the same as the bulletin that was broadcast at 1200 local time in Uzbek.

Later Aina started broadcasting children's programmes - the first was a Turkish cartoon film.


Pajhwok news agency's Zarghona Salehi reports that "struggling with the aftermath of 25-year strife, Afghanistan is one of the biggest antibiotic users in the world, a senior Health Ministry official said.

"Dr Ahmad Shah Shokohmand, a high-ranking official at the Public Health Ministry said this at a three-day workshop on Monday. A new health policy promoting hygiene was on the anvil, he added.

"Dr Abdul Salam Jalali, director of the Indira Gandhi hospital, told Pajhwok news nearly 70% of the people had no access to potable water and 86 percent of the environment polluted."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

CORRECT GUIDELINES - 1720 local time

During the late hours of the afternoon local Balkh TV in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif has been broadcasting public information programmes on next Sunday's elections.

The programmes explained the voting procedure, and emphasized that voting was secret.

Viewers were reassured that no-one could find out who they had voted for and that any threats to vote for a particular candidate were worthless.

The programme urged viewers not to vote for criminals and to be careful to follow the correct guidelines for voting.

BRIGHT FUTURE - 1710 local time

The turn-out in the Afghan presidential elections in October 2004 impressed many people around the world. Some risked their lives to cast a vote. A majority of Afghans voted for Hamid Karzai.

But Afghans clearly had very high expectations from their elected leader. After a year, Afghans are beginning to complain.

Mohammad Haroon Chakhansuri from Kabul says "it is very clear if we Afghans had a good leader we would have a bright future. The leader chosen bravely by Afghans in the presidential elections seems to be very careful and still afraid of the warlords - or maybe he is one of them."

BUILD A FENCE - 1620 local time

Foreign interference in Afghanistan is one of the key issues Afghans raise in their e-mails to the BBC News website. Sahibzada from Mehtarlam in Laghman province says in his e-mail: "As long as we have neighbours bent on destabilising the country, the future will remain bleak for most of us."

Ahmed Ali Ahmadi, from Kandahar, commenting on the same issue, says "some of the neighbouring countries still interfere in the affairs of Afghanistan and make the situation insecure which remains a nightmare for the entire nation."

The Afghan government, too, has repeatedly put down the insecurity in the country to interference from neighbouring countries.

People say insurgents have been using the neighbouring countries as a base. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who has come under pressure recently, offered to build a fence between the two countries to prevent incursions from either side offer during.

Insurgency is undoubtedly one of the key factors contributing to insecurity in the country.

But there are many internal factors to insecurity too. The widespread presence of guns, armed groups, the drugs trade, corruption, and the rule of law are some of the these factors.

ELECTION IN FOCUS - 1615 local time

The media and press in the southern city of Kandahar, especially governmental media and press, focus on the elections.

The government-funded newspaper Tolo-e Afghan sets aside one of its four pages for advertisements about the elections.

Kandahar television and radio release election related news and broadcast candidates speaking.

Private media and press, Afghan Azada Radio, Sur Ghar Weekly also focus on the elections and print news, articles and commentaries on the same subject.

CRIME PLOT - 1535 local time

The independent, private Kabul-based Tolo TV broadcast a crime programme today called "Dahlizha", meaning "Corridors". The programme followed a real criminal case about two policemen who tried to assault a girl.

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Tolo TV programme followed a real criminal case
The girl was in a taxi on her own, the TV said. During the journey, two policemen stopped the taxi, got in and ordered the driver to change direction.

The girl, 16, protested but the policemen explained that they were suspicious of her and the driver.

"They were not police. They just meant to take me somewhere", the girl said.

She asked to call her mother. "They said they would call her mother from a public phone, rather than using my mobile," she said.

But she finally managed to speak to her mother on the phone. The mother told the programme "I could hear my daughter crying: 'Mum, what kind of police are these that they are touching my hands and legs?'"

The policemen agreed to meet the mother but later changed their mind, which angered the girl.

"Either you will go to the appointment and see my mother, or I will throw myself out of the car and shout for help".

At the appointment the mother was waiting with a number of other police officers. One of the perpetrators escaped the scene and the other one was handed over to the police.

Initially the relevant department said they didn't know the officer. The mother and daughter went to the officer's room to file their complaint, but the officer had already vanished.

The TV said that when they asked where he was, they got no clear reply.

KARZAI IN HERAT - 1525 local time

The big story in the western city of Herat today is the visit of President Hamid Karzai.

The press uses President Karzai's visit to highlight the problem of re-building the city
The Herat government-funded daily Etefaq-e Islam uses his visit to highlight the problem of re-building the infrastructure of the city.

It notes that many companies involved in project work are going bankrupt.

It says President Karzai is due to give a speech on the economy and looks to him to provide some relief from the problems.

The news agency Herat News Centre publishes a message of welcome to President Karzai.

It says there is expectation that the visit will build trust and provide hope for the future.

The visit lasted around four hours, during which President Karzai delivered his speech on the economy before returning to Kabul.

DESTROYED CITY - 1515 local time

The Kabul Times, a state-run daily English-speaking newspaper published in Kabul, says "everyone can see that the city of Kabul is being confronted with growing problems with each passing day.

The Kabul Times: 'senior figures need to pay attention'
"This is largely due to the massive influx of people from all corners of the country.

"The growing number of national and international NGOs and foreign missions settling in this rather small and partially destroyed city.

"Senior government figures need to immediately pay attention to these problems."

WAR CRIMES - 1500 local time

Cheragh, an independent daily newspaper, says "yesterday, the electoral commission disqualified 28 parliamentary candidates.

Cheragh: 'the central government, Unama and all candidates should inform people about the results'
"This measure has raised several questions. If the candidates whose names have been removed had committed crimes in the past, why were they not informed earlier so they could defend themselves and not spend large amounts of money on their electoral campaigns?

"Even if they had committed crimes, their crimes cannot be as serious as those committed by Mawlawi Motawakil, Mullah Khaksar, Mullah Raketi and dozens of other Taleban members.

"The central government, Unama and all candidates should follow up this issue and inform the people about the results.

"Otherwise, there will be no point in people taking part in the election."


Erada, an independent daily newspaper published in Kabul, writes: "To sabotage the election process, destructive and terrorist elements, following the orders of foreigners, have been carrying out suspect activities and guerrilla attacks in the country, which have resulted in casualties and destruction.

Erada: 'The people would not have stood against despotic candidates'
"At the same time, accused criminals are contesting the election.

"If the electoral commission had set out the criteria for candidates earlier, disqualifying those candidates about whom people complained, the people would not have been so angry at the commission.

"The people would not have stood against despotic candidates."


Hewad is the state-run mainly Pashto speaking daily newspaper. In today's editorial it says "there are five days left to the parliamentary and provincial council elections.

"These five days are not ordinary days, but are of great importance to our history. People should take part in the election, as they did in the presidential polls.

"And they should see this as their national responsibility.

"It was expected that candidates would figure out for themselves whether they were capable of being elected by the people as members of parliament and provincial councils.

"Since the candidates themselves did not do this, it is now the duty of the people to elect proper and capable candidates to parliament."

SOAP OR ASH - 1430 local time

Aina TV broadcast a public information film on the importance of using clean water for cooking and washing food.

The film also warned against eating food sold on the streets
The film gave advice on how to avoid diarrhoea and other diseases: use clean water for drinking and cooking, wash vegetables with chorine and salt, wash your hands with soap or ash before eating.

The film also warned against eating food sold on the streets. "Heat food properly before eating", the film said.

It also advised that children suffering from diarrhoea should be fed their mothers' milk.

HONEST AND DISHONEST - 1400 local time

Anis, an Afghan state-run daily newspaper published in Kabul, writes in its editorial: "When candidates talk about their future plans, it becomes difficult to distinguish between honest and dishonest ones.

"They all talk about people's rights and act as if they will be able to rebuild Afghanistan overnight if they are elected to parliament.

"But if one takes into consideration Afghanistan's national interests and does not give in to those in power, then one can distinguish between honest candidates and those who had links with the people in power in the past.

"This is the best way to identify true representatives..."

GUANTANAMO BAY - 1300 local time

"Afghan Daily" is a news website which compiles news about Afghanistan on a daily basis.

It publishes stories from sources and agencies such as Reuters, Agence France Presse, and Associated Press news agency.

It also picks up stories from various newspapers such as Gulf News (published in the Middle East) and The News (published in Pakistan).

This morning the Afghan Daily has published a story from the Pakistani newspaper The News about the release of the former Taleban ambassador in Islamabad, Abdul Salam Zaeef, saying he "has been released from the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention centre by the US government and reached Kabul on Sunday evening.

"Taleban sources confirmed the release of Zaeef, who hails from Panjwai district of Kandahar province."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

HANDED ALL HIS WEAPONS IN - 1200 local time

The lunchtime bulletin in the northern town of Mazar-e Sharif leads with the upcoming elections.

Voters are urged to cast their votes for "a competent and capable candidate".

But the second item features ordinary Afghans complaining about the lack of information on the election.

The third item is the story of one candidate - Momin Khirkhwa - who has been disqualified from the elections because he has been accused of keeping a gun.

The candidate protests his innocence, however, saying he has handed all his weapons in. The final story in the bulletin highlights the security preparations being taken for the election.

"Be alert" is the watchword. It also features a number people can call if they notice anything suspicious.

USE YOUR VOTE! - 1200 local time

The private TV station Aina runs a news bulletin in Uzbek at midday local time, which is a repeat from the previous evening.

A female presenter in a headscarf reads the news.

The main story is commemorations of the anniversary of the death of the Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Masud, the main anti-Taleban commander, who was killed on 9 September, 2001.

The next item is a report on action by the authorities in northern Balkh province to clamp down on shopkeepers who are selling out-of-date foodstuffs.

Pictures show government workers dumping packets of food, including crisps and snacks.

The bulletin ends with two foreign stories - President Bush in New Orleans and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

The bulletin is followed by a public information film on the elections this coming Sunday.

"Make sure you use your vote!" and "Are you ready to decide about your future?" are the slogans broadcast over pictures of candidates and preparations for the poll.

WEDDING WOES - 1130 local time

News of the elections aside, some Afghan newspaper columnists today are concerned with matters relating to marriage.

A columnist writing in the independent daily Sahar is concerned by the number of child marriages in the country, with some girls being married off as young as six years old.

Another columnist, writing in the culture and society section of the independent weekly newspaper, Watandar, raises the issue of noisy wedding parties.

He reports that loud music is played through huge speakers which can disturb neighbours.

The writer calls on people to think about others when organising wedding parties.


The private TV channel Aina begins its morning programming with recitations from the Koran.

The station - originally set up in the northern Jowzjan Province which has a sizeable Uzbek population - then continues its broadcasting with a children's cartoon in Turkish and music videos of groups playing traditional Afghan music.

FOUNDATION STONE - 1100 local time

The top story on the morning news bulletin on local radio in Balkh Province is the visit by the minister for water and power to the region.

The radio reported that the minister would then be travelling to Faryab Province to lay the foundation stone of a new power station.


Unsurprisingly Kabul's newspapers are preoccupied with news related to the forthcoming polls.

Forthcoming polls feature on front pages of several newspapers in Kabul
The disqualification of 28 candidates from the election campaign makes the front pages in several papers including the independent Cheragh.

The independent Erada reports that the election campaign in the north-eastern Takhar Province had ended in violence.

Also on its front page Erada reports an election campaign story with a difference.

Election posters of three female candidates are proving very popular in Herat and Badakhshan Provinces and are being sold for 150 Afghanis ($3) a time.

Election posters of female candidates are being sold for 150 Afghanis
The paper reports that the candidates have denied that they are using their looks to win votes and have said they hoped that people will vote for them on the basis of their policies.

The independent Arman-e Melli puts the release of the former Taleban ambassador to Pakistan from Guantanamo Bay on its front page.

The government-funded Eslah makes the dismissal of a government employee for bribery its top story.

ELECTION LAMENT - 0940 local time

Reports about the forthcoming elections dominate today's newspapers from Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.

The front-page article in the independent Sahar (Dawn) newspaper reports a lack of information about the polls among the public in the north of the country.

The newspaper conducted a survey of people in five northern provinces which revealed that 70% of the population did not have enough information about the elections - with many people saying that they will vote for President Karzai, despite the fact that they are parliamentary not presidential elections.

The editorial in the same paper laments the increase in violence ahead of the polls and calls on the government to tighten security. It warns that the polls will be undermined if security is not improved.

NEW HOSPITAL - 0940 local time

In the independent Baztab (Reflection) newspaper pages two and three are taken up with biographies of the candidates.

But it is the construction of a 50-bed hospital in Hayratan, a town close to the border with Uzbekistan, that makes the front page.

The release of the former Taleban ambassador to Pakistan is also front-page news. In its inside pages the paper also reports that Afghans are the biggest users of antibiotic tablets in the world.

CONCERN ABOUT GUNS - 0919 local time

The Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) is a humanitarian news agency, launched by the United Nations, covering sub-Saharan Africa, eight countries in central Asia, including Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The agency this morning has published the following report, which it says doesn't reflect the views of the UN.

"Afghan war criminals, drug barons and regional warlords must be barred from serving in the nation's new parliament, due to be elected on 18 September, human rights bodies warned on Saturday.

"A new survey by the Kabul-based Human Rights Research and Advocacy Consortium (HRRAC) highlights a significant lack of trust among voters in the 6,000 candidates for the Wolesi Jirga [lower house] and provincial council elections.

"According to the survey, people in all six provinces expressed deep concerns about local commanders, warlords and war criminals entering into the parliament."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.


The Afghan news agency Pajhwok was initially launched by the non-governmental organisation, International War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). The agency, now a separate institution, is now reporting in three languages of Dari, Pashto and English.

Pajhwok news agency this morning reports that "the Afghan cabinet Monday approved the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) drafted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

"The MDGs specify policy guidelines regarding eradication of poverty and hunger, promotion of gender equality, empowerment of women, reduction in rate of child mortality and achievement of universal primary education."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Two Afghan journalists speak about their working life



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