To keep Afghan women on air, Kabul TV mogul plans change overseas

But he said leaders were already making plans for the headquarters of the company’s broadcasts outside the country, possibly in the region and also in Europe, so that it could continue to brief Afghans.

“We can do it basically from anywhere. TOLOnews and all of our other outlets will continue as we have been, but what I can’t say for sure is where, ”Mohseni said.

Saad Mohseni (left) with brothers Jahid and Zaid, left their lives in Melbourne to start post-Taliban television and radio stations in Afghanistan. Credit:Paul Harris

“We can have a hybrid model: we will have an office in Afghanistan; we will have stringers and journalists, but our primary broadcast will come from outside, but we will have the freedom to have women on the air.

Unlike the last Taliban regime, social networks, the Internet and satellite are now regularly used by Afghans, whose population has reached 37 million. Almost two-thirds are under 25 years old.

Mohseni said that meant TOLOnews would continue to be watched by Afghans who could use the technology to bypass any censorship or cut off their land channel in the country.

“Look at Iran: satellite TV is banned but 90% of people watch satellite TV,” he said.

“People will find ways to get us.

The Taliban have presented a more moderate face to the world and say they want the private media to work but must comply with Sharia law.

They also said women would not be executed for working the way they did in the 1990s, but they did not rule out the possibility that they would be limited to certain occupations.

Mohseni said the definition of Sharia law was “subjective” and it depended on who prevailed within the Taliban.

But he said the channel would not accept a ban on female reporters.

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“How could we? We have been defending women’s rights for two decades and my mother was one of the BBC’s first Afghan correspondents in 1996. It’s in our DNA, ”he said.

“It’s one of the red lines.”

Mohseni said he was in regular contact with the Taliban, telling them they could choose to be a more progressive Islamic state like the United Arab Emirates and not the backward 12th-century ruler who embodied their last reign.

“Even Saudi Arabia is changing,” he said.

As leaders nervously wait for the Taliban to consolidate their regime, Mohseni said some of his employees chose to escape and were among the estimated 16,000 at the airport trying to flee the country, a process that 10 employees and six volunteers from his company had helped with it.

“It pains me to see our middle class disappear,” he said.

He said Australia should accept more refugees than the 3,000 the government has so far declared admission, but it is more important that the West continue to engage with the Taliban to help moderate their positions and preserve as many of the gains made over the past 20 years for the Afghans.

“People say ‘was this a waste of money?’ No, it is not because the world engaged in Afghanistan has transformed one of the most backward countries into one of the most avant-garde, one of the most ambitious; so you transformed people, ”he said.

“People have changed, so how do we keep those values, keep those gains?

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“People say, ‘Well, should we just run away completely and disengage?’ My comment on this is “not yet”.

He said that by using the carrots of international aid and the sticks of targeted sanctions, the West had the opportunity to influence the Taliban to create a government that includes women and adheres to human rights.

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