The Search for Popular Support

The Search for Popular Support

In attempts to broaden support, the PDPA created organizations and launchedpolitical initiatives intended to induce popular participation. The mostambitious was the National Fatherland Front (NFF), founded in June 1981. Thisumbrella organization created local units in cities, towns and tribal areaswhich were to recruit supporters of the regime. Village and tribal notables wereoffered inducements to participate in well publicized rallies and programs. Theparty also gave affiliated organizations that enrolled women, youth and cityworkers high profile exposure in national radio, television, and governmentpublications.

From its beginnings in the mid-1960s, the membership of the PDPA had takenkeen interest in the impact of information and propaganda. Some years aftertheir own publications had been terminated by government, they gained control ofall official media. These were energetically harnessed to their propagandagoals. Anis, the mainline government newspaper (published in Pashtu andDari), the Kabul New Times (previously the Kabul Times),published in English, and such new publications as Haqiqat-i-Inqelab-i-Saurexhibited the regime's flair for propaganda. With Kabul as its primaryconstituency, it also made innovative use of television.

The early efforts at mobilizing popular support were later followed up bynational meetings and assemblies, eventually using a variation of the model ofthe traditional Loya Jirgah to entice the cooperation of rural secular leadersand religious authorities. A large scale Loya Jirgah was held in 1985 to ratifythe DRA's new constitution.

These attempts to win collaboration were closely coordinated with efforts tomanipulate Pushtun tribal politics. Such efforts included trying to split ordisrupt tribes who affiliated with the resistance, or by compromising notablesinto commitments to raise militia forces in service to the government.

A concerted effort was made to win over the principal minorities: Uzbeq,Turkoman, and Tajik, in northern Afghanistan. For the first time their languagesand literatures were prominently broadcast and published by government media.Minority writers and poets were championed ,and attention was given to theirfolk art, music, dance and lore.

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