The axe hanging over Indian soap operas on Afghan TV channels has been lifted, albeit temporarily, with the departure of one of the most colourful figures in Afghanistan’s political pantheon.
Last week, President Hamid Karzai axed the country’s attorney-general, Abdul Jabar Sabit, the man “investigating” the continuing defiance of TV channels telecasting Indian serials.
As reported by HT earlier, the so-called “decision” to ban the serials for their culturally inappropriate content was taken at a meeting which involved religious scholars, members of parliament, media houses and the media commission.
Passing on the issue of investigating media content to the office of the attorney-general was not only unprecedented, but suited those seeking to hobble the country’s most popular independent TV channel, Tolo, which telecasts the immensely popular serial Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, one of the main revenue earners for the channel.
Sabit had a very public row with Tolo a few months ago when he accused it of quoting him out of context. In reprisal he sent in armed guards into the channel’s offices to “arrest” those responsible. In the event, the TV channel, owned and managed by the powerful Mohseni brothers, took on Sabit, a face off that was only resolved with high-level intervention. Tensions however simmered under the surface and Sabit’s penchant for nursing personal vendettas was likely to have influenced any decision on Tolo. It was also not be the first time the government used the attorney-general’s office to tackle prickly issues.