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| Ander Nieuws week 48 / nieuwe oorlog 2009 |
 
 
 
Nato's voice is stifled as propaganda newspaper ends up as food wrapping

 
The Times
November 12, 2009
Jerome Starkey
 
It is used to wrap kebabs, chips and glistening jalebi sweets, but rarely is Nato's flagship propaganda newspaper read in Afghanistan.
 
Bundles of Sada-e Azadi The Voice of Freedom are sold by the kilogram as scrap in Kabul's black market bazaars.
 
The fortnightly free sheet is packed full of pro-Nato stories about school openings and new wells, printed in full colour, in three languages, and distributed across the country. But it rarely reaches its key target audience.
 
Ahmad Farid, who runs a hamburger stall in Kabul, needs at least 3kg a day to wrap his takeaway meals. "It costs me 20 afghanis [25p] a kilogram and it's the best-quality paper," he said.
 
Sada-e Azadi is particularly favoured by restaurateurs because the premium white paper is more absorbent than ordinary Afghan newsprint.
 
"Compared with the Afghan papers the newspaper with the English words is much better," he added.
 
Staff at his restaurant rip each page into hundreds of neat strips to match the size of the flatbread wraps they serve. Shops near by are stacked full of Nato newspapers. Most have small scales outside to facilitate the sales.
 
The German-led psychological operations taskforce at Nato's Kabul headquarters spends about 400,000 a month producing 800,000 copies. They are supposed to be distributed through a network of yellow boxes around the city. Most are never even filled. Those that are get emptied almost immediately by traders who sell them on. In the "paper bazaar" they sell for little more than 3p apiece.
 
"We don't even have to go and collect them," said Nasir, a trader close to Kabul's bird market. "The people from Nato bring them here and we buy them straight from them."
 
Nato says that it has reviewed the distribution policy, but insiders admit: "It's almost impossible for the soldiers to get out enough to really know what's going on."
 
Copyright 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd.
 
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| Ander Nieuws week 48 / nieuwe oorlog 2009 |