Afghan TV satires aim to fix problems with a laugh

Wed Mar 4, 2009 11:28pm EST
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By Sayed Salahuddin

KABUL (Reuters Life!) - These days, if you need something done in Afghanistan, don't bother with the officials: comedy and satirical TV shows appear to be calling the shots.

Fed up with endemic corruption, poor governance, militant attacks and the foreign forces aimed at reining them in, actors and entertainers are venting their frustration, and lampooning social problems, on these hugely popular shows that air on several private Afghan television stations.

Nothing, and no one including President Hamid Karzai, is spared in the shows, which often have a fantasy element.

Sometimes, they even target Taliban insurgents.

"For years, I was thinking how I could play a role in helping to resolve the disorders in our society," said actor Hanif Hangam, who created "Zang Khatar" or "Alarm Bell" for privately owned Tolo television.

"Our program has produced positive results," he told Reuters. "I have to switch off my phone after going on air because I receive hundreds of calls, appreciating what we do."

The shows are a must-see for many Afghans, who lack access to authorities to discuss their problems and whose daily lives are still racked by lack of security and infrastructure woes since the removal of the Taliban in 2001.

Politicians also appear to be avid viewers, often fixing some problems after the shows' exposes.   Continued...