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Media Is Development Explores Media’s Role in a Free Afghanistan

“Media is Development” was the slogan for the Afghanistan Media and Civil Society Forum held March 28-29 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul.

The Forum was organized by The Killid Group and the Inter-Press Service with the participation of Pajhwok Afghan News, the Centre for International Journalism and Sayara Media & Communication.

The stated intention of the conference was to hold a public dialogue on the role of independent media in Afghanistan’s transition to stability. The conference participants produced a Declaration of the Afghanistan Media and Civil Society Forum, which affirmed that, “There can be no democracy or development unless the voices of all sectors are reported and disseminated in order to contribute in the decision-making process.”

Over two days of speeches by global media personalities, break out sessions, and public dialogues with civil society leaders, the conference participants reviewed the range and scope of the Afghan media sector, highlighted the expectations of the public in regards to the role of the media, reviewed the role of public policy and donor support to sustain an independent and professional media, and explored potential partnerships between the media, civil society groups, donors and the government.

Director General of Inter Press Service Mario Lubetkin said, “The Afghans want peace and reconstruction more than anybody else but they also want to be involved in the process.” Chairman of The Killid Group Shahir Zahine echoed this sentiment in his remarks, “No democracy can work unless the people feel they are driving the process…Only a responsive and capable media and civil society can facilitate the dialogue needed for deep-rooting democracy, which is the only way to ensure peace and development.”

The Forum was the first all-Afghan platform for civil society and media representatives to discuss their role in the Afghan process in the presence of and with participation of representatives of government, donor and regional and international organizations.  Among the 115 invitees were around 60 Afghan media and civil society organizations, ministers and parliamentarians, and the international community in Afghanistan, including donor countries and institutions, UNAMA and UNESCO, ISAF/NATO and the Coalition.

The Forum was supported by the European Commission (EC), Italian Directorate

for Development Cooperation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and USAID through The Asia Foundation (TAF) in Afghanistan.

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