It is with deep sorrow to report that NED mourns the loss of Sardar Ahmad, a widely-respected Afghan journalist and founder of NED grantee Kabul Pressistan, in the tragic terrorist attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul the day before the country’s elections. Sardar Ahmad, his wife Humira, their six year old daughter Nilofar, and their four year old son Omar were brutally murdered at point blank while celebrating the Afghan New Year over dinner. Abzuar, his two year old son, was wounded in the head by a bullet fragment, but is now out of danger and recovering in the hospital. Agence France-Presse has set up a permanent fund to help his recovery and transition to a life without his parents.
This tragedy underlines the risk – and courage – that characterizes the work of so many NED grantees. Despite these dangers, grantees like Sardar press on in their drive to bring positive change to their countries.
Sardar founded Kabul Pressistan (KP) to strengthen independent media in Afghanistan and provide civil society organizations with media access. KP used Endowment support to develop in-house audio-production capacity and to broadcast programs through 24 radio stations across six provinces. KP’s radio programs and news features focus on democracy, human rights, good governance, and anti-corruption campaigns.
KP’s daily programing includes news bulletins featuring national and international news, followed by comments and analysis. The programming also features social, cultural, and political developments in Afghanistan, debates, and talk shows. Each programming bundle KP produces for its affiliate stations brings independent analysts, civil society and rights activists, and political pundits into the discussion to analyze and debate civic concerns and current events. The daily shows are recorded in Farsi and Pashtu, and reach an estimated one million listeners, mainly youth and women.
KP also provides internships at its production studio for both male and female students from Kabul University’s journalism faculty. The interns get hands-on experience with interview techniques, reporting skills, and acquiring and verifying news sources. After their internships, KP awards the students with a certificate acknowledging their work in radio journalism and, where possible, assists in their job search either with KP or elsewhere.
Sardar Ahmad will be missed by so many in Afghanistan, and will be around the world by all who supported and admired his struggle for a free, stable, and democratic Afghanistan. Sardar’s final story says a lot about him: his optimism, his humor his versatility. Rest in peace.