Mehwar Daily, one of the prominent Pashto newspapers in the country shut down after 4 years of publications. They released their 782th and last issue on April 8, 2015, announcing their departure citing financial problems.
Mehwar would publish in both national languages, but started their Pashto content about four years ago, and was considered among the credible print media outlets in Kabul. It had a circulation of 2000 and was available in Kabul, Nangrahar, Maidan Wardak, and Kandahar.
The growth of mass media laws in the country since the fall of Taliban, and the moderate approach of the Hamid Karzai, resulted in the rise of a number of media outlets. Freedom of speech and its development was one of the big achievements in the last 14 years and helped in creating awareness, sharing information and strengthening the pillars of democracy. It was during this period that most of the print, and audiovisual media developed. However, with little or no active support they failed to sustain and were later closed owing to different reasons. It must be noted, that none of them shut because they were against the government.
Abasin Baryal, chief editor of Mehwar Daily blamed financial constrains as a reason for the closure. He said that he made a lot of efforts to make the publication self sustaining, but failed. He added that there was no widespread culture of reading newspapers in the country, and that some newspapers were even distributed for free.
Baryal added that they would also distribute newspapers in insecure areas. He claimed that extremist ideologies of people prevented them from developing in those areas. He said that the newspaper was also distributed in Khost, Laghman, and Kunar provinces, with another 5000 subscribers online.
Abasin Baryal criticized the officials at the Ministry of Information and Culture for not doing enough to support the mass media in the country. He blamed them for the fall of the media outlets in the country.
He suggests that ministry of information and culture should prepare a media support fund or a lending system so that media outlets can cope with the crisis and prevent them from falling apart. He said that in the last four years he only visited the ministry once, and that too because he was summoned for a media violation.
The relationship between ministry officials and chief editors are strained and there are no efforts made from either sides to strengthen them.
Meanwhile, academics and writers mourned the loss of Mehwar Daily on social media. They termed its closure as a major loss and have asked the citizens and businessmen to financially support the newspaper. They have also urged Mewhwar Daily editors to reconsider their decision and continue publication.
Danish, head of Danish publication and Danish cultural center, started a online campaign on social media and asked citizens to voluntarily help the newspaper to restart publications.
Other cultural figures such as Alam Gul Sahar, a Pashto poet, writer and litterateur also expressed their disappointed on Facebook page.
Khan Wali Basharmal, head of the Bacha Khan Institute wrote that with the closure of Mehwar Daily, another road to the truth has been closed.
Daily Barkhleek and Bawar Pashto were among the Pashto those that recently closed. While Sada-e-Shaharwand and Asia-times were some of the prominent Dari newspapers that were recently closed. With a number of other print media outlets shutting their operations due to financial issues, questions are raised on governments commitment towards promoting mass media.