Afghanistan's Media War

In Afghanistan, "the Taliban now have three different press spokesmen covering three separate regions of the country. In Kandahar this summer, Taliban cassettes, DVDs and magazines are available in numbers never previously seen. ... The Taliban have also begun broadcasting a pirate station called the 'Voice of Sharia' from mobile transmitters in at least two southern provinces," reports The Independent. "In response, Western forces in the country are extending a fledgling military funded radio channel called Radio Peace," which aims to counter Taliban propaganda portraying President Hamid Karzai as a "puppet" of the United States. The Washington Post reports on "an unsigned but official-looking document" recently delivered to Afghan media outlets, which directed them to avoid any material that "weakens public morale or damages the national interest," among other instructions. Karzai disavowed the document, which the national journalists' association called "illegal." The document is believed to have come from the Afghan intelligence service or government officials "seeking to indirectly intimidate the press."