Any future for publishing houses and printing in Afghanistan?

Spine Sahar, Director of Danish Library: The decline of the printing and publishing industry in Afghanistan is a cultural disaster that puts our country under cultural invasion.

Kabul- The printing and publishing industry in Afghanistan has grown tremendously over the last twenty years, with the emergence of the best printing in the country that it was not possible to do in neighboring countries until now, but the neglect of the authorities, corruption and bribery of the outgoing government caused great damage to the printing industry and the publishing process, and the printing presses were closed doors for economic reasons.

Complete information is not available about the number of printing presses in Afghanistan, but according to the figures of the Ministry of Information and Culture, about 120 printing presses have been registered in the capital, Kabul, 35 in Herat Province, 8 in Kandahar, 13 in Balkh, and 15 in Nangarhar, and their owners obtained work permits from the Ministry of Commerce, in addition to The presence of dozens of small and large printing presses that do not have official licenses.

Danish Publishing and Distribution had an important role in spreading Afghan literature abroad (Al-Jazeera)

100 printing presses closed

After the withdrawal of the US forces and the Taliban movement to power, 100 printing presses were closed, a number of them even auctioned their machines, and more than 3,000 workers lost their jobs due to the closure of printing presses and publishing houses.

The Danish Publishing and Distribution Library, which was established in 1995 in Peshawar, Pakistan, had an important role in spreading Afghan literature in the diaspora, and its owner, Asad Danesh, decided to return to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban government in 2001, and was able to publish 2,800 books.

Library director Spin Sahar told Al Jazeera Net, “In the last century of Afghanistan’s history, the profession of printing and publishing did not develop as it was in the past two decades. Unfortunately, this profession declined during the last two years of the Islamic Republic for many reasons, the most important of which was the attempt to profit through corruption and bribery. Printing and publishing is a cultural disaster and our country is under cultural invasion by Iran and other countries in the region.”

The withdrawal of foreign forces and the closure of embassies and international institutions was a major reason for the closure of printing presses, and it generally affected the living situation in Afghanistan. About 150 newspapers and publications stopped printing newspapers and magazines, and important newspapers were content to publish their contents online only.

Journalist Karim Jalili says to Al Jazeera Net, “Printing and publishing stopped because it did not grow gradually and naturally, and many newspapers and magazines get support from foreign embassies, and with their withdrawal, the situation of printing houses and publishing houses was affected,” and he added, “The new government formed by the Taliban is concerned with the security, political and living situation, but the affairs of Printing and publishing is not at the top of her agenda because she is busy with other things.

The owner of a publishing house announces the sale of his printing press (Al-Jazeera)

by public auction

Offering the printing presses their machines by public auction is a precedent in Afghanistan, and the people’s lack of interest in bookstores affected sales. Asad Karimi, owner of a library in Kabul, tells Al Jazeera Net, “Since 70 days I have not sold not even a single book, and if the situation continues in this way, God forbid, the The efforts that have been made on the culture of reading will fade away and our next generation will face the cultural and literary invasion of our neighbours.”

The lack of electricity and the necessary expertise in the printing and publishing sector led to the closure of a large number of printing presses, as the experienced people left the country, and the publishing houses went to Pakistan and Iran, where prices are good compared to the prices in Afghanistan.

And Ismail Khan, the owner of a library in the city of Jalalabad – told Al Jazeera Net – that there are more than 20 publishing houses in his city, and up to about 100 libraries, “and we send books to Pakistan to print them because of the lack of a professional printing press, and the prices are very expensive.”

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