This month, DW will expand its media project "Aashti" to include live shows on web TV in Dari and Pashto, Afghanistan's official languages.
The project, sponsored by the German Foreign Office since September 2020, will be produced in association with Moby Media Group, Afghanistan’s largest private production company.
The new format tackles topics important to the people of Afghanistan, spotlighting the current political situation, the recent wave of migration and everyday issues, while highlighting Germany's commitment to the region and crucial role in protecting freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
The show will feature a roster of Afghan contributors of a diverse set of social groups as well as analysts with expertise and inside knowledge of the Afghan situation. DW aims at giving voice to groups whose points of view have rarely been heard so far: women, among others, are to be more involved in the political discourse on Afghanistan. The talks will be supplemented by video reports, interview footage and social media posts such as Instagram Stories.
The show will primarily be broadcast via social media, DW website, and DW partners. Partners on the ground include Ariana TV, Afghan TV and Shamshad TV. DW partners with the private production company Moby Media Group for the first time to produce "Aashti". The international broadcaster will work with a network of journalists from the show to produce exclusive features from Afghanistan and continue its newsgathering on the ground.
"Aashti" went on air as an interactive information platform at the end of 2020 with the aim of creating a free space for open debate on the future of democracy and human rights in Afghanistan. The German Foreign Office funded the launch of the project in 2020 with 70,000 euros. It continues its support in 2021 with funds amounting to 500,000 euros, enabling DW to develop the web TV show.
Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State for International Cultural Policy at the Federal Foreign Office, said: "Independent journalism is indispensable. In Afghanistan, people are more dependent than ever on free reporting. That is why we are expanding our support for Deutsche Welle projects and local media houses in the country. Deutsche Welle's 'Aashti' was already able to successfully launch in 2020 thanks to the Federal Foreign Office's support. Further development of the format and cooperation with partner broadcasters on the ground is important to continue setting up free-speech zones in Afghanistan."
Gerda Meuer, DW Managing Director of Programming: "What DW is about is this: informing people independently, promoting the formation of free opinion, and strengthening the capacity of civil society. The 'Aashti' project does all that. I am very happy that it is now possible to develop it further and provide an excellent journalistic offer to the people of Afghanistan."
Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi, DW Head of Afghan Service, said: "'Aashti' means reconciliation and was originally meant to accompany the peace talks in Afghanistan. Now that these have failed, it is even more important for the people in the country that we do not abandon them. There are currently massive restrictions on media in Afghanistan. We continue to serve the target languages of Dari and Pashto – without facing the same constraints placed on the media in Afghanistan. In doing so, we place our focus on women and minorities, the most vulnerable groups at the moment, and on giving them a voice."
Shafic Gawhari, CEO Moby Media Group Afghanistan: "Since the Taliban took power in mid-August, the Afghan media, whose development within the last two decades is praised worldwide as one of the most positive achievements, has been facing major challenges. The cooperation between DW and Moby Media gives us hope at this difficult time of solving the problems lying ahead of us and giving our journalists the chance to continue their honorable work. I look forward to continuing our collaboration and thank everyone who has contributed to this project."