Karzai Statements Affirm Importance of Broadcasting to Afghanistan

In a White House press conference this morning, Afghan President Hamid Karzai underscored his countrymen’s reliance on the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Liberty, and other international broadcasters.

In response to a reporter’s question about the recent Newsweek report on the alleged Koran desecration at Guantanamo and the violent, anti-American demonstrations in Afghanistan that followed the report, Karzai said:

“We discussed those questions on the — on the demonstrations, or the so-called demonstrations in part of the — parts of Afghanistan. You saw that government buildings were burned and private property was damaged, broken. Those demonstrations were, in reality, not related to the Newsweek story. They were more against the elections in Afghanistan; they were more against the progress in Afghanistan; they were more against the strategic partnership with the United States.

“We know who did it. We know the guys. We know the people behind those demonstrations. And if — unfortunately, you don’t hear — follow the Afghan press, but if you listen to the Voice of America, the Radio Liberty [Radio Free Afghanistan], and the BBC, the Afghan population condemned that — those acts of arson in Afghanistan.”

During the Afghan demonstrations, the Voice of America’s Afghanistan program, known as Radio Ashna, covered the views of the Afghan people — which by and large condemned the violence.

Commenting on Karzai’s remarks Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson said, “President Karzai’s words reaffirm the importance of the priority we have placed on broadcasting to Afghanistan.” The BBG supervises all U.S. government-supported international broadcasting, including VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Under the name Radio Free Afghanistan, VOA’s Radio Ashna combines with RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi to reach millions of Afghans 24-hours-a-day in the country’s two official languages, Dari and Pashto. VOA also provides a one-hour weekly television NewsFile in both languages to Afghanistan National Television.

The BBG is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported non-military international broadcasting, including the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL); the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa); Radio Free Asia (RFA); and Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Mart