Afghan Youth Debates: Broadcast Media Count for Most in Helmand

Afghan Youth Debates: Broadcast Media Count for Most in Helmand

An academic from the southern province of Helmand has hailed Afghanistan's thriving media scene as one of the leading success stories of the country's recent history.

Nur Mohammad Emal, an associate professor at Helmand’s university, said independent print and broadcast media had experienced rapid growth over the past 13 years.

Speaking at an IWPR debate on February 23 with an audience of around 100 students and others, he urged Afghan media networks to build on their achievements. With the April 5 presidential and provincial elections approaching, the broadcast media had a major role to play in informing communities in more dangerous parts of the country.

“Helmand has 14 districts, most of them far away from the provincial centre Lashkar Gah," Emal said. "The government's control over these areas is weak, and they are out of bounds to staff from the Independent Election Commission. But media outlets remain free to broadcast the opinions and views of election candidates, the Independent Election Commission and civil society organisations to residents of these areas.”

Shamsullah, an undergraduate studying veterinary medicine, asked the panel about the campaign advertisements which candidates have placed in the newspapers. Dozens of ads featuring both presidential and provincial contenders now appear daily in a large number of publications as election day draws closer.

Wahidullah Amiri, a lecturer in literature, replied that print media had most impact on educated people, but a large number of Afghans remained illiterate and hence relied mostly on the broadcast media.

Mohammad Wali Zirak is a university student in Helmand province and an IWPR trainee.

This report was produced as part of Open Minds: Speaking Up, Reaching Out – Promoting University and Youth Participation in Afghan Elections, an IWPR initiative funded by the US embassy in Kabul.

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