April ‘BoniBlog – Tabish Forugh Says Thank You

By John Iaboni, Sports Media Canada, Special Correspondent – this week in Turkey.

There are families in Canada who have close ones stationed in Afghanistan. There are families in Canada who have lost loved ones on Afghan soil. These families don’t know Tabish Forugh but he knows what Canada and troops wearing the Maple Leaf have provided his nation of Afghanistan and he is forever thankful.

Tabish Forugh

Forugh is a 23-year-old journalist from Kabul. He represents the emerging force in a nation torn apart by war, hopeful that the freedom he’s now enjoying will be the permanent landscape in a country that is finally seeing hope.
Sport is part of the Afghan renaissance, a major part of it as this land’s athletes have started to compete and be surprisingly successful in international competitions. They love their football (soccer) and cricket … and so much more.
Forugh was here in Antalya on April 30 to address the 73rd AIPS Congress. Afghanistan is minus a sports press association at this stage but having one isn’t far off. In fact, AIPS president Gianni Merlo stated after Forugh’s gripping address to the more than 300 AIPS delegates that his wish is to see the energetic young man next year at the Congress in Seoul “bringing a request of membership to AIPS for your association.”
I was fortunate to catch up with Forugh just minutes before he took the podium for his emotional talk. When I told him I was from Canada, well, his smile, his warmth told me about his passion and gratitude for the Canadian commitment.
“You know the situation and the circumstance that’s going on in Afghanistan,” he said. “We know that the international society, especially Canadian and U.S. governments and troops are there to help the Afghanistan nation and government for combating against terrorism, extremists and drugs. We know that Canadian people are sacrificing for the security and the safety of our nation.
“We assure you that the new generation will never forget such co-operation and such help and attention towards having peaceful settlement and a secular society. So as a young journalist, I’m pointing out that if there is not any more support for Afghanistan from the international society once again we will be the centre of terrorism and the centre of extremism.
“We know that the international society, especially the U.S. troops, the Canadian troops and all of our friends that are involved in the international coalition force in Afghanistan, they are doing their best and they are doing their best efforts for saving the Afghanistan people and for bringing a new future and opening a new chapter for the future of Afghanistan.”
Forugh told the AIPS delegates that the majority of the journalism force in Afghanistan is under 25 years of age. The salaries per month for these young men and women range from $150 U.S. to $500 U.S. That’s right, per month. Anyone getting more than that, Forugh adds, is “so lucky.”
He works for Nukhost Daily, all Afghan web sites and he’s gone from spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan National Olympic Committee to assisting that association in press relations.
“Yes, I love sports,” he says. “But mainly I’m a journalist. I’m working both in sports and political matters. So working in sport is a different media. In Afghanistan, yes, you hear about explosions, about terrorists and about extremism and drugs.
“Sport is something different, people love to hear about peaceful means so the only way that we can show that there is feelings, there is heart for our future, there is the hope for being better — is through sport. While we are working with sport media we feel free, we feel comfort that we are giving something different to our people at the end of the day that they are so tired of hearing all the usual things.
“It means that Afghan young journalists who are involved in sport, we are working to show the new face of Afghanistan. It means the face that has been on the back side of war and instability is now on the front side. So we are showing to the people of the world that is a country called Afghanistan where the people are civilized. They love sports; they have history and they are working for the future. One of our aims working with the sport press is that we can show the new face of our country to the world and to the nations that love us – and we love them.”
Then he took to the podium for an emotional, forthright presentation, a poignant moment from this 2010 AIPS Congress with the hope that this AIPS visit will be the first of many more to come for him.