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Tolo TV discusses languages in forged constitution Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   TajMahal Icon

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 12:57 PM

Afghan TV discusses linguistic tensions, "forged" constitution

Saturday, March 17, 2007
Afghan TV discusses linguistic tensions, "forged" constitution
Source: Tolo TV, Kabul - BBC
Afghan Tolo TV discusses linguistic tensions and the prescribed use of Pashto names and titles in the media and government offices. A number of the participants allege that an article on the issue was "forged" and inserted into the constitution. A university lecturer argues that the language of the "majority" ethnic group should have national use and denies any tampering with the constitution. Guests are Zubair Shafiqi, editor-in-chief of Daily Weesa; Fahim Dashti, editor-in-chief of Kabul Weekly; Manjia Bakhtari, Kabul University lecturer; Jawed Farhad, writer and analyst; Esmail Yun, Kabul University lecturer and Ahmad Zia Rafat, Kabul University lecturer and head of the United National Council of Afghanistan. The following are excerpts from the roundtable aired by independent Tolo TV on 14 March; subheadings inserted editorially: [Correspondent] Welcome to our today's talk show. My first question goes to Mr Zubair Shafiqi. Mr Shafiqi, could you tell us about your article on the national exp​ressions [Dari: Estelahat-e Melli, prescribed names, titles for national use,]?
[Zubair Shafiqi in Pashto] Before I go into the main topic of discussion, I would like to ask Tolo television not to censor my comments. I have been watching Tolo television for the past one and half year. Some programmes aired on Tolo, especially the Goftaman [discourse] Programme, are not in favour of the current critical situation in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is emerging from several years of civil war and we are still facing foreign interferences. I believe, in the current situation and the current nation-building process, we vitally need confidence and trust. How can we have trust? The people of Afghanistan have always remained united against foreign invasions and aggressions, but when foreign aggressions and big crises are over, some people raise specific issues to harm the national unity.
Is there a national language?
[Correspondent interrupts] In your article, you have mentioned that the paragraph on the preservation of prescribed names has been added to the constitution. How can we accept prescribed names when we do not have a national language?
[Zubair Shafiqi in Pashto] I believe we have a national language. I would not go into the technical side of the fact that we have or do not have a national language. It is clear. The constitution obliges us to preserve our nationally prescribed names. There were very long discussions during the Constitutional Loya Jerga on this issue. Some people were fuelling such talks. Negotiations and discussions are natural in grand assemblies, but once they make a decision after long discussions, then no one has the right to reject a decision. I believe the constitution has a paragraph asking for the preservation of the prescribed names and everyone should preserve it. It is in favour of our nation, and it will be in favour of our national unity.
[Correspondent] But one sentence before the paragraph on the preservation of prescribed names says: Publications and radio and television broadcasting are free in all languages spoken in the country. Can one criticize a radio or television for broadcasting in a specific language?
[Zubair Shafiqi in Pashto] Nothing like this has happened. No one has been stopped from doing so.
[Correspondent] Zia Rafat, do you think there is any difference between official and national language?
[Ahmad Zia Rafat] [Passage Omitted: Zia Rafat speaks about roots of languages and elements forming a nation.] There are talks that Dari is affected by other languages, more specifically by the so-called Iranian Farsi. There is nothing such from the view point of the philology. The language that the people in Tajikistan, Iran and Afghanistan use we know it as Farsi. From the academic point of view, no non-Persian society can impose their thoughts in terms of the use of other words in a Farsi-speaking society.
[Correspondent] Can you specifically tell us if there is any difference between national and official languages?
[Zia Rafat] Yes there is. We cannot speak of a national language unless we have a nation, but we can have official languages as our constitution has stipulated. But official languages cannot be considered as national languages because we still do not agree on a single language to be the national language.
[Correspondent] Esmail Yun, the constitution speaks of official languages in different paragraphs, but there is nothing said about the national language. If we do not have a national language mentioned in the constitution, how can we have nationally prescribed names?
No tampering with the constitution on languages
[Esmail Yun in Pashto] You mentioned earlier that a paragraph on prescribed names has been added to the constitution [after its final approval]. I totally disagree with it. It is an attack on the honour and personality of the 552 Loya Jerga representatives who approved the constitution. I will tell you the story of who wanted to change the constitution. The people who wanted to bring changes to the constitution are themselves against the citizenship and identity of Afghanistan. They are against the word Afghan. Fortunately, I was present in both the emergency and constitutional Loya Jergas. I was secretary of understanding committee during the Constitutional Loya Jerga. There were different conflicts in the understanding committee.
Those, who do not accept this article [article No 16] of the constitution today, they had proposed 13 articles for amendment. The points they wanted to change were that Pashto should not be the national language of Afghanistan, the national anthem should not be in Pashto, the word Afghan should not be used for citizens of Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan should be called Afghanistani. They also wanted the name of Afghanistan to change. One of these people was Mr Hafiz Mansour who fuelled such issues. In order to bring amendments to the 13 articles, they needed 152 signatures of the Loya Jerga representatives. Changes to 13 articles of the constitutions were proposed by those who were against the identity of Afghanistan. Some Loya Jerga representatives from eastern and southwestern provinces wanted Pashto to be mentioned as the national language of Afghanistan in the constitution.
According to the UN and Constitutional Loya Jerga secretariat, the representatives could only sign once to propose amendment to an article. When the signatures collected by those, who wanted changes in 13 articles, were checked, fortunately they had not managed to get the needed number of signatures. I say fortunately because it was in favour of the people that they could not change the articles. One of the people was Mr Hafiz Mansour who had signed twice for one article. Faking signatures in such an important and critical issue could be considered a political crime. Several of those who now launch and chant slogans had faked signatures. All those documents would still be available at the UN archives or other places. They therefore failed to amend the 13 articles through a legal process.
[Correspondent] Which one is the final draft of the constitution that the people should act upon?
[Esmail Yun in Pashto] The current text is the final one approved with the understanding of all the members of the Loya Jerga. There were people who introduced themselves as people's representatives in the Loya Jerga and came there from different channels, but they were themselves against their nation. They did not accept Afghanistan, Afghanistan's identity or the Afghan nation.
When they failed to bring amendments to their proposed articles, they did not even accept to take part in the general Loya Jerga voting process. The Loya Jerga representatives made decisions about articles on the basis of understanding and discussions. When understanding or discussions did not work, then the option was voting.
The Loya Jerga understanding committee decided to have the paragraph on preservation of the prescribed names in an attempt to protect Afghanistan from cultural and language aggression of other countries and to make a distinction between our languages and the languages spoken in Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The paragraph does not only speak about Pashto or Dari languages. I am not a language expert of Dari. As a university lecturer, I would say that Dari and Farsi are both the same language. But the constitution of Afghanistan mentions Dari, not Farsi. The sentence on prescribed names was added in the constitution to protect Afghanistan's Dari language from the aggression of Iranian Farsi. The Loya Jerga representatives said Afghanistan's Dari and Pashto languages have understanding and similarity. Afghanistan's Pashto has no similarity or understanding with Pakistani Pashto. Pakistani Pashto is an alien language and our people are unfamiliar with it. Iranian Farsi language is therefore not only unfamiliar to Pashtuns, but is also alien and unfamiliar to Dari speakers. They do not understand it. This article has been added in full understanding with all Loya Jerga representatives. It is just a few people who made fake signatures and wanted to change the articles. They failed and that is why they now claim that some paragraphs have been added to article No 16 of the constitution.
[Correspondent] So you think there is a difference between Dari and Farsi.
[Esmail Yun in Pashto] If we look at it from the view point of philology, they are the same. But all the people of Afghanistan prefer Afghanistan's Dari to Iranian Farsi. We also prefer Afghanistan's Pashto to Pakistani Pashto. If we believe both languages are totally the same and has no difference, why was Farsi not mentioned in the constitution instead of Dari?
[Correspondent] I come back to the first question; is there a difference between official and national languages?
[Esmail Yun] Yes, there are differences. We have examples in different parts of the world. The language of the majority tribe is considered the national language of that country.
[Passage omitted: Esmail Yun describes examples of other countries with the language of majority tribe as national language].
[Esmail Yun continues] We do not have a 100 per cent pure nation anywhere in the world. We have different ethnic groups in Afghanistan and a collection of all these tribes makes a nation. Of course we do not have a 100 per cent majority ethnic group among all these tribes, but we estimate a partly majority tribe.
[Correspondent interrupts] Why do we have to accept a native majority [Dari: Aksaryat-e Bomi]. Why should we not accept a language mostly used by the people?
[Correspondent] Jawed Farhad, taking into account Mr Yun's remarks, do you see any difference between Dari and Farsi? For instance, in philology, the similarity of a language is considered from the way it is used and the alphabet that it uses. We cannot see any difference between the way Farsi is used in Iran or Dari used in Afghanistan.
[Jawed Farhad] From the view point of historical philology, I believe that Farsi and Dari are both the same. I would give a very simple example. A person has one name at home, but is called with another name outside. But he is the same person. Dari and Farsi are not two languages, but are the same language with two different names. We do not know two languages called Iranian Farsi and Afghan Dari.
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Posted 21 November 2007 - 01:02 PM

We should differentiate between accent and the language itself. Most people in Afghanistan consider the accent as a language. It is only the accent that differs in different areas. The changes are not very significant though.
Mr Yun mentioned something about the native majority and national language. It is very difficult to set standards based on which a language can be considered a native language. We cannot say what language has a deeper history and native roots unless we conduct very deep and close researches and surveys.
The thought that any language with native majority is a national language is a totally personal and individual interpretation and assumption.
[Correspondent] Manija Bakhtari, what are the standards based on which you can consider a language popular?
[Ms Manija Bakhtari] Well, we usually say that we have a history of more than 5,000 years. This history goes back to a very big civilization, which has had a language of its own. We have documents and evidence suggesting the historic roots and use of that specific language by the big civilization. When we speak of the historical roots of our language, of course we have evidence to prove it.
Farsi and Dari have no difference from the view point of grammar and word order. It is just a difference of accents. We cannot say Iranian or Afghan languages because they both come from the same roots and are the same.
When we use the Farsi words for university [Dari: Daneshgah], lady [Dari: Banu], trader [Dari: Bazargan], it has nothing to do with cultural or language aggression. It has nothing to do with the independent identity of Afghans [Manija uses Afghanistanis rather than Afghans]. We have shared the same civilization in the past and now we share the same language.
Another point which may not relate to your question is the constitution. Has any other paragraph been added to the constitution after it was approved by the Loya Jerga or not?
I do not want to go into details about the first part because Mr [Fahim] Dashti might have more information about it. I personally believe that one paragraph, on preservation of national exp​ressions, has been added to the constitution.
Let us first speak about prescribed names and discuss what features the prescribed names should have in a society. If we need to have prescribed names in our society, why should they always have to be from the language of a specific group of people? When we speak about the national anthem, why should it be in the language of one specific ethnic group?
[Correspondent] Mr Dashti, after the endorsement of the new constitution, there were rumours of counterfeit and addition of some paragraphs in the constitution. You were also one of the critics. What do you think was the need to add new paragraphs into the constitution after it was approved by Loya Jerga representatives?
I will give you copies of the constitution. These copies of the constitution carry [Senate speaker] Sebghatollah Mojaddedi's signature on the top of the pages. We cannot see any paragraph about prescribed names in the end of article No 16.
[Fahim Dashti] Unfortunately I was not as lucky as Mr Yun to be a member of the Constitutional Loya Jerga, but as a journalist, I have been there in almost all discussions under the Loya Jerga tent . Mr Yun spoke about the understanding committee. I was expecting him to also speak about the behind-the-scene committees and meetings that were held in the smaller tent, where all decisions were made. It is also a fact that most decisions were made in the smaller tent in the presence of Mr Zalmay Khalilzad, the then US ambassador to Afghanistan, and the UN special envoy to Afghanistan.
Anyway, the paragraph that we are talking about in No 16 was not included in the first draft of the constitution approved by the Loya Jerga representatives [Fahim Dashti uses the Dari word for Loya Jerga as Majles-e Bozorg].
The copy was distributed among all Loya Jerga representatives by Sebghatollah Mojaddedi who was then chairman of the meeting.
I also have a copy of the draft distributed among representatives. If I am not mistaken, there was a gap of 14 to 15 days between the approval of the constitution by Loya Jerga representatives and the endorsement of the constitution by the president.
When the constitution was endorsed by the president, we could see this new paragraph in the president's endorsed copy. The paragraph says: The present national administrative and academic names in Afghanistan are safe.
This sentence was not mentioned in the main draft of the constitution which was approved by the Loya Jerga representatives. When the constitution was endorsed by the president and rumours circulated, as a journalist, I was trying to find out what had happened.
There is another copy of the constitution signed by Nematollah Shahrani, who was chairman of the Constitution Scrutiny Commission. It also carried the signature of Prof [Abdol Salam,] Azimi, who was then deputy head of the Constitution Scrutiny Commission, and is now the chief justice. There were two other signatures that I do not exactly remember who they belonged to. That copy also included Sebghatollah Mojaddedi's signature. This specific paragraph has been added in that copy too.
When we asked the president's office for an answer about it, they said the president had endorsed the copy signed by Mr Shahrani and four or five other people.
When we asked Sebghatollah Mojaddedi as chairman of the Grand Assembly, he rejected to comment.
When asked for comments, Nematollah Shahrani, chairman of the Constitution Scrutiny Commission, said their job was complete when they had handed over the first copy of the constitution to the Loya Jerga.
Even on that time I wrote, and I repeat again, that the president of Afghanistan is responsible for this counterfeit in the constitution.
There are two assumptions: If the president had signed the constitution without reading it and cross-checking it with the copy signed by Sebghatollah Mojaddedi, then he is responsible. When the president endorses a law, he should first read it and make sure he fully understands it, he can then endorse it. If the president did read the constitution and noticed a change but still signed it, he is responsible. This is not the only case of forgery in the constitution. There are two to three other minor changes too.
[Correspondent] What do you think are the causes for the forgery?
[Fahim Dashti] Well, Mr Yun spoke about one group of people earlier, but he did not speak about the other group. There were two different groups of people with different thoughts in the Loya Jerga.
One group wanted the national anthem to be in Pashto and wanted the so-called prescribed names to be safe, and several other issues. This was what one group wanted. But there was another group against demands of the first group.
I think the first group had had more influence in the behind-the-scene games, in the smaller tent that I mentioned earlier, and succeeded to dismiss the thoughts of the second group.
In spite of all our efforts, we could not get any clear answer from the president, Mr Shahrani or Mr Mojaddedi about rumours or criticisms of changes in the constitution.
[Correspondent] Mr Shafiqi, do you reject or accept the copy of the constitution that I gave you earlier?
[Zubair Shafiqi] Naturally, I accept it as the constitution of Afghanistan because it has been signed by the president of our country.
"Forged" signatures?
[Correspondent] So you think Mr Mojaddedi's signatures on the top of the pages are faked?
[Zubair Shafiqi] The modern technology has made things very simple [speculating that the signatures might have been forged].

[Correspondent] Anyway, we come to the other point which reads: Publications and radio and television broadcasting are free in all languages spoken in the country.
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Posted 21 November 2007 - 01:14 PM

Is it a crime if a television or radio channel does not say Stera Mahkma or Pohantun [Pashto words for Supreme Court and university]? Is it a violation of the law to use Dari equivalents?
[Zubair Shafiqi] To some extent it is alright. We should have constructive discussions. Unfortunately, I can see that sometimes discussions about the prescribed names and national values are very pessimistic. Sometimes people even reject our national prides and identity.
Sometimes people in this programme speak on behalf of a nation that has, in a very short time, defeated big emperors, but unfortunately they forget their national values and prides and do not even confess what nation they represent.
I do not think it is right to raise and discuss in television the issues that harm the national unity in Afghanistan .
[Correspondent] Do you have any comments Mr Rafat?
[Zia Rafat] Well, it became clear that there has been forgery in the constitution. Something that should not have happened has happened.
I believe it has a historical reason. When a specific tribe or group has been in power and influenced other tribes for decades, it is natural that ethnic conflicts resurface. The ruling tribe is always afraid that other tribes or groups might stand against its interests. It therefore always tries to create obstacles for other tribes and tries to prevent them from gaining power. One of the obstacles that the tribe-in-power can create is to add a paragraph in the constitution under the title of languages or national names. It also has political reasons, there is no doubt.

Awareness of rights
War created awareness. If they say that other tribes had kept quiet about such issues before the war, their silence had never meant that they accepted everything imposed on them. Their silence has been a result of despotism. But during the war, other tribes also found the opportunity to develop their talents. When other talents emerge, positions change. When positions change, such conflicts occur.
[Esmail Yun] First, I would like to comment on Mr Dashti's remarks. According to Mr Dashti, the president is criminal because he has forged the constitution. From the legal point of view, accusing someone is itself a crime.
It is even not possible to think that it has been forged. It is a humiliation and disgrace to the Loya Jerga representatives.
Why did those people not accept to vote? They simply sat there and warned others and humiliated them. The reason was that the majority of the representatives wanted understanding. When understanding did not work, voting was the last option. It is a principle of democracy. But they never agreed to vote.
There are different copies of the constitution. The copy you are showing us is the third copy. When the constitution commission presented the first draft to the Loya Jerga, the Loya Jerga members suggested several changes.
[Correspondent interrupts] So you think this is also not the final version of the constitution, right? Then why did Mojaddedi sign it?
[Esmail Yun] Mojaddedi signed every copy of the constitution that was presented to the Loya Jerga representatives. This is not the final text. There was another copy before this text.
[Correspondent] Who were members of the understanding committee?
[Esmail Yun] The 552 members of the Constitutional Loya Jerga had been divided into 10 committees. The understanding committee was composed of representatives from the 10 committees. Heads, deputy heads and secretaries of the 10 committees were members of the understanding committee. They represented the 552 members.
There has been no forgery. It is impossible. Speaking of forgery is a humiliation to the Constitutional Loya Jerga of Afghanistan. The president did not need to do so.
[Correspondent] What has the government done to strengthen and develop the languages of other ethnic groups mentioned in the constitution?
[Esmail Yun] Even if we tell you to observe this article now, than Tolo television might possibly complain. You said earlier that broadcasting is free. Yes, it is free, but within the framework of law. Broadcasting is free, but the contents of the broadcasts that harm the national unity in Afghanistan and are against the Islamic values and create division among the people of Afghanistan are not free.
We say the people have approved this article of the constitution. I agree that some people might have been against it, but it is a result of voting. Majority people have voted for it. It is a principle of democracy.
Promotion of languages guaranteed under constitution
We do not say nothing should be done to promote and develop Dari language or other languages. For instance, Uzbek language is a majority in [northern] Balkh and Takhar Provinces. They can have radio and televisions in Uzbek in those provinces. It is their right and no one stops them.
[Correspondent] We are discussing the legal side of the issue. Suppose the text of the constitution is right, but we can see that the government has done nothing to promote any of the languages mentioned in the constitution. For instance, we see that when job vacancies are announced by the Administrative Reforms and Civil Services Commission, the main condition of appointment is English language. Do you not think that the government has taken the first step to break the law?
[Esmail Yun] We do not confirm all the activities of the government and we do not say that the government is like angels doing nothing wrong. There are several other problems.
[Correspondent] But how can we criticize Tolo television?
[Esmail Yun] We fulfil our responsibility. We should also advise the government to address problems and shortcomings. We cannot commit crimes because other commit crime or do something wrong.
Another point, when we speak of nationally prescribed names, they are all proper names. You go to the city and ask a taxi driver to take you to Pohantun or Daneshgah [Pashto and Dari words for university] see where the taxi driver will take you [insists that the people do not know Dari words, such as Daneshgah or Dadgah-e Ali, and therefore Pashto prescribed names for these places should be used].
We have also accepted several Dari words in Pashto. If we talk about all these discriminations and separations in the government and among the people, several other problems will emerge.

[Correspondent] The government has not managed to establish specific academies or institutions to work on language enrichment and promotion.

[Esmail Yun] The government has not done several things. The government cannot ensure security inside Kabul. We should not expect all these things from the government. I am talking about people who raise such issues.

The government has not raised this issue, but the televisions have raised it. So it is for the televisions and academies to sit together and address the problem through negotiations. It is not the job of one journalist or one writer to change a language. Academies and universities should sit together to address the problem.

[Correspondent] Mrs Manija, what do you think needs to be done for a language to be naturally promoted without someone telling or ordering us or putting it in the law? How can we replace foreign languages with our own language?

[Manija Bakhtari] When we emphasize the use of Dari words in our language and when we say Pashto words should not enter or be imposed on our language, it is just because a group or a tribe wants to force us to use those words.

As you mentioned earlier, there is a high interest for English language in our society now because it is a language with which people can make a living these days. Those who speak English can have better privileges and live with good working opportunities. It goes back to poverty in our society and lack of employment opportunities for the citizens of Afghanistan.

We should have centres to make words and names for imported goods. Reading is one of the factors that can help improve our language.
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Posted 21 November 2007 - 01:18 PM

Census, majority or minorities

Another point I would like to mention is that all the discussion we had today or all discussions in Afghanistan's intellectual circles today go back to some problems of years back or even decades back. Those problems have been caused as a result of forgery in the history of Afghanistan. If you go to schools today and see history books taught there, you can see that history has been forged and changed. This is what has caused the issue of minority and majority.

[Esmail Yun interrupts in Dari] There is a minority and majority. The Loya Jerga proves it. Why do you reject something so clear and natural?

[Manija Bakhtari] Even the number of representatives selected from different provinces for the Loya Jerga had also been based on discriminations. We can see how many representative we had from [northern province of] Badakhshan and how many from Kandahar?

[Esmail Yun] It is on the basis of population.

[Manija Bakhtari] We do not still have an exact population census in Afghanistan to say who is a majority and who is a minority. Democracy does not speak of minority or majority. It is the right of every individual citizen that is important in democracy.

[Fahim Dashti] I would like to make some very brief points. First, Mr Yun said that I called the president a criminal. I have never done so and will not do so. But when I said he had signed the constitution, he is responsible to the people for his signature.

Secondly, you say it is a humiliation to the representatives of the people when we say there has been a forgery. I also believe so. I have all the different copies from the first to the last. I have the whole collection. I even have the copy that was distributed in the last day of the Loya Jerga when the Loya Jerga ended. It was signed by Sebghatollah Mojaddedi.

I also say the same thing. When the Loya Jerga representatives approve a document after 22 days of long discussions, but then we see that document is changed during the gap between the approval and the endorsement. They worked for 22 days and finally approved something, but a person or a specific group changed it. It is of course a humiliation to the people's representatives.

[Esmail Yun] I reiterate that there has been no forgery in the constitution. Those who are against a paragraph of article No 16 of the constitution are also against the identity of Afghanistan. They were also against the name and citizenship of Afghanistan.

[Esmail Yun switches to Dari] I say the law is already approved and endorsed. The people of Afghanistan are obliged to obey it and accept it. You worked there as a journalist, but I was a member of the constitution commission. It says national exp​ressions. Prescribed names do not necessarily have to be Pashto words or phrases. Why are people so sensitive to this?

Bank Melli Afghan [national bank of Afghanistan] is Dari and we use the same name. Pohantun and Stera Mahkama [Pashto words for university and Supreme Court] are also proper names. Why should the representatives of people forge? It is not possible.

[Correspondent] Dear viewers, thanks for accompanying us. Thanks to our guests. Ideas of our guests are their own and do not belong to Tolo television.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

What do you think about that?? Are Pashtuns preparing another pashtunization for Afghanistan??
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Posted 21 November 2007 - 02:48 PM

[QUOTE=TajMahal;3014]
... The points they wanted to change were that Pashto should not be the national language of Afghanistan, the national anthem should not be in Pashto, the word Afghan should not be used for citizens of Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan should be called Afghanistani. They also wanted the name of Afghanistan to change... [/QUOTE]

Bayad chonin bashad. Tajikhai Afghanistan "afghan" nestand, onho Tajikand va "afghanistani" hastand. "Afghani" sahv ast, "afghanistani" bayad goft. Va ismi Aghanistanra bayad taghir dod. In dorost ast.

Tashakkor az Taj-Mahal baroi in matlab.
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Posted 21 November 2007 - 03:29 PM

before i make any comments on this topic, i need to print it out and read them at home because it is too long and cant read it at work. But let me tell you something about Tolo TV, it is the best TV station in afghanistan, i encourage everyone to support it, i dont understand why this tv is only limited to afghanistan and neighbouring countries, they should start broadcasting in europe and america as well.

Rika Khana
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