Radio Kabul

Radio Kabul

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Radio Kabul is the official radio station
Radio station
Radio broadcasting is a one-way wireless transmission over radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both...

 of Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. The name Radio Kabul has been given to many different incarnations of the state-run radio station since the first radio transmitters were installed in Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 in the 1920s.

In 1925, a 200 watt
The watt is a derived unit of power in the International System of Units , named after the Scottish engineer James Watt . The unit, defined as one joule per second, measures the rate of energy conversion.-Definition:...

 Russian transmitter operating at AM
Amplitude modulation
Amplitude modulation is a technique used in electronic communication, most commonly for transmitting information via a radio carrier wave. AM works by varying the strength of the transmitted signal in relation to the information being sent...

 833 kHz was installed in Kabul Palace by King Amanullah Khan
Amanullah Khan
Amanullah Khan was the King of the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929, first as Amir and after 1926 as Shah. He led Afghanistan to independence over its foreign affairs from the United Kingdom, and his rule was marked by dramatic political and social change...

. This transmitter was destroyed in the 1929 uprising against the king. The transmitter was replaced in 1931 by the new king Mohammed Nadir Shah
Mohammed Nadir Shah
Mohammed Nadir Shah was King of Afghanistan from 15 October 1929 until his assassination in 1933. Previously, he served as Minister of War, Afghan Ambassador to France, and as a general in the military of Afghanistan...

, and was upgraded in 1940 when a new 20 kilowatt transmitter was installed in its place, operating at 600 kHz. This is generally considered the official birth of Radio Kabul. Programs were broadcast in Pashto
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

, Dari-Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, Hindi, English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...


Throughout the modern history of Afghanistan, the radio has been controlled by (and renamed by) the currently ruling party. As King Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

 tried to reinforce his goal of pan-Afghan unity, the station's name was changed in 1953 to the Afghan Broadcasting System, and again in 1960 to Radio Afghanistan. During times of relative peace in the 1960s and 70s, Radio Kabul hosted a whole generation of traditional and modern Afghan artists such as Ustad Mohammad Hussain Sarahang
Mohammad Hussain Sarahang
Ustād Mohammad Hussain Sarāhang was an Afghan musician and best known exponent of hindustani classical music from Kabul Afghanistan. He was the second oldest son of the renowned musician, Ustad Gholam Hussain...

, Ustad Farida Mahwash
Ustad Mahwash commonly referred to as Ustad Mahwash is a popular Afghan singer. She was the first woman to have been conferred the honorary title of “Ustad”...

, and Ustad Mohammad Hashem Cheshti
Ustad Mohammad Hashem Cheshti
Mohammad Hashem Cheshti, also known with surname Chishti and as Ustad Hashem , was a contemporary classical musician and composer born in Kharabat area of Kabul, Afghanistan, who died in 1994 in Germany under unclear circumstances....

. These master musicians were revered not only in Afghanistan but also in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, and the entire Middle East.

In 1973, when the King was overthrown in a coup, the change of government was announced by the new leaders over the radio station. After the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 installed a puppet government in 1979, Radio Kabul was controlled by the Soviet-backed government and was used to rebroadcast pro-Soviet propaganda directly from the Soviet Union.

During the civil war that followed the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1990, the radio station was damaged several times during the fighting, changing hands as different factions gained control of Kabul. In 1996, when the Taliban gained control of Kabul, the station's name was changed to Shariat Ghagh, which means Voice of Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

. As the Taliban consolidated their power throughout the country, the radio station was used to rally Taliban supporters and to broadcast new edicts by the ruling mullah
Mullah is generally used to refer to a Muslim man, educated in Islamic theology and sacred law. The title, given to some Islamic clergy, is derived from the Arabic word مَوْلَى mawlā , meaning "vicar", "master" and "guardian"...


The Taliban banned music on the new station and ordered the destruction of the radio archives, which contained irreplaceable tapes of Radio Kabul music and political programs going back over forty years. The tapes were presumed to have been lost forever, but in 2002 the BBC reported that, miraculously, the archives survived not only the Taliban but the utter destruction of the Radio Kabul building by American bombs during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

in November 2001.

After the Taliban were driven from power, Radio Kabul resumed its music and political programs.