Taliban’s IPL ban shows media and entertainment industry won’t be able to survive for long in Afghanistan
The Taliban, the new rulers of Afghanistan, earlier this week announced a ban on the broadcast of the Indian Premium League (IPL), the hugely popular and monetarily lucrative Indian cricket league, which is widely watched in Afghanistan as their star player, Rashid Khan, is part of it
The Taliban, the new rulers of Afghanistan, earlier this week announced a ban on the broadcast of the Indian Premium League (IPL), the hugely popular and monetarily lucrative Indian cricket league, which is widely watched in Afghanistan as their star player, Rashid Khan, is part of it. The Taliban cited “anti-Islamic content”, hinting at the presence of dancing cheerleaders and bareheaded women.
The league had been broadcast on Afghan television networks for years. Networks getting the broadcasting rights in the country used to reap huge revenues through advertisement. This year Lemar TV got broadcasting rights when the series began early this year. However, due to Covid conditions, the League was suspended in India, and resumed again in the UAE this month.
But the Taliban takeover in August changed everything. The broadcaster is now set to lose huge revenue at a time when the economic conditions in the country are already dire.
However, much before the IPL ban, what got little attention, especially outside of Afghanistan, is the fact that the Taliban started clamping down on the entertainment industry as soon as they reached Kabul.
All private television networks that used to broadcast music, comedy, and other shows featuring girls and women went off the air. These were very popular shows among the new Afghan generation who came of age after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. But the problem is these programs showed a face of Afghanistan the Taliban is ideologically opposed to and determined to erase.
Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesperson and deputy minister for information and culture, had earlier declared music "un-Islamic" and banned it. Music and musical instruments have been part of the Afghan culture for centuries. Even the group’s own videos produced for propaganda contained music.
Recently the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), a global trade union of media workers, said in one of its reports that they see an emergence of official Taliban media, giving only its version of the truth. The rest was set to just disappear.
The environment and worldview in which the Afghan media industry flourished in the last two decades are completely opposite to that of the Taliban.
The lack of willingness on the Taliban’s side to acknowledge or to co-opt these parallel realities will kill some of the country’s economic segments which are not only self-reliant in nature but also generate huge job opportunities.
This fall, however, is an inevitable consequence when the mullahs take charge of everything--- from running the economy to managing sports--and prioritized the imposition of their worldview rather than understanding interlinked complexities of socio-political conditions to the country’s economy.