The Afghan independent newspaper Kabul Weekly hit the streets of the capital on January 24th, 2002, after more than five years absence. It is the first independent news’ weekly published in Kabul since the departure of the Taliban.
The weekly, with seven pages in Pashto and Dari, and three pages in French and English, had an initial print run of 2,500 copies, and was priced at 2,000 Afghanis (the price of a loaf of bread). It was published with the permission of the Ministry of Information.
All copies were quickly snapped up throughout the Afghan capital, either given away or sold to residents keen to get hold of some independent news. The editor in chief, Faheem Dashty, told Reporters without Borders (Reporters sans Frontières - RSF) that the staff of ten journalists were extremely enthusiastic and determined to report the news without fail.
Faheem Dashty, who was seriously wounded in the suicide attack against Commandant Shah Massoud, put his name to the first issue’s front page editorial, in which he presented the history and aims of the Kabul Weekly. He also wrote a first-person piece about the attack, that killed Commandant Massoud.
The Kabul Weekly Dari and Pashto pages carried a report on the presence of international forces in Kabul, articles on the country’s reconstruction, free speech, the situation of women, Kabul rumours, the rebirth of theatre in the country and finally the return of opium cultivation. This last article was the only one that ran without a by-line. The weekly also carried a literary column, some 20 photographs and two cartoons. The Kabul Weekly staff aim to sell advertising space to boost funds for the publication. For now, this first Afghan independent weekly, backed by the AINA organization, has being supported by UNESCO and Reporters without Borders. The French government, the National Geographic and other institutions have also promised their support.
AINA is also working on the first Afghan cartoon magazine, the Zanbil-e-Gham (Basket of sorrow), scheduled to appear in a few days, and on a women’s magazine.