TV & Radio head said to have made decision without warning

KABUL — Authorities in Kabul have banned Indian films from state television and women singing from the radio in a continuing struggle for influence in Afghanistan between Islamists and moderates.

“A letter has been issued to officials to drop Indian movies as well as foreign TV series from the TV and also women’s songs from the radio,” one television official told Reuters on Aug 28.

Mohammad Ishaq, the head of Kabul TV & Radio, made the decision without any warning, the official added.

Ishaq is a senior member of the Northern Alliance, which dominates President Hamid Karzai’s government and helped the U.S. oust the fundamentalist Taliban regime last year. Ishaq was not available for comment.

Afghans have enjoyed new freedoms this year after five years of Taliban rule, during which strict Islamic sharia law was imposed and public music and television banned.

Indian films, with their mix of melodrama, romance, songs and theatrical fighting, have become hugely popular in Afghanistan, where restaurants compete for customers by showing them.

Ironically, Indian films and images of women singing are shown on state TV in Kandahar, the deeply conservative former stronghold of the Taliban. Both also appear on television in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

But Kabul TV has remained under the influence of more conservative elements of the Northern Alliance.

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