This week, Voice of America marks 35 years of broadcasts to Afghanistan, with special tributes and programming dedicated to the history of the service.
The Afghanistan service began broadcasting just months after the Soviet invasion of the country in 1980, with a daily 15-minute Dari language radio program. Two years later, the service launched a 30-minute Pashto language radio broadcast into the region. Despite Soviet efforts to jam VOA broadcasts, millions of Afghans tuned into the Voice of America for the latest news and information. Following the attacks on September 11, 2001, VOA increased broadcasts into the region to a 24 hour stream and in 2006, launched a daily television newscast, known as Ashna TV.
A segment dedicated to the service’s broadcasting history aired on Ashna TV and included reactions from officials and citizens in Afghanistan and in the U.S. on the impact of VOA’s broadcasts over the years. Special guests were live on set, including a former broadcaster of the service, who is now the Afghan Minister of Culture.
“We’re extremely proud of what we’re celebrating: 35 years of accurate, objective and comprehensive broadcasts to Afghanistan. We’re grateful to the millions of Afghans who have chosen VOA as their No. 1 source of news and information and are committed to serving them in the years to come” says VOA Afghanistan Service Chief Masood Farivar.
In addition to news from Afghanistan and the region, VOA’s Ashna programming reports on U.S. and international developments, current affairs, U.S. policies, health, science, entertainment, sports, and women’s rights. In 2014, the service extensively covered Afghanistan’s historic elections and newly elected Afghan leaders’ visit to Washington. The service has also been known to provide high profile interviews, such as an exclusive with former President Hamid Karzai, which was shared with and aired by major media outlets in Afghanistan.
In a special congratulatory message to the service, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, said “As an active media outlet, VOA’s Afghan Service continues to contribute to the culture of democracy, human dignity, and pluralism. VOA Radio Ashna, through its programming, reporting, news, and interviews, helps Afghanistan by spreading the voices of Afghans for peace, justice, freedom and human rights. Congratulations on the 35th anniversary, and wishing further success to its colleagues.”
VOA reaches nearly 40% of Afghanistan’s adult population weekly on radio, television and multiple digital platforms, including two web sites, five Facebook pages and three twitter accounts. The service’s Ashna TV program airs on the affiliate station, RTA, Afghanistan’s state broadcaster with the country’s largest television coverage. Radio Ashna broadcasts eight hours of daily programming on AM, FM, and shortwave, and just recently, RTA agreed to air two daily news bulletins in Dari and Pashto.
With its popular hosts and reporters in Afghanistan and in the US, VOA is one of the leading sources of daily news and information for the country’s population of nearly 30 million, as well as a large Afghan diaspora around the world.