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Originally published Monday, May 14, 2012 at 6:30 PM

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Afghan TV network may miss NATO summit on nation's future

Ariana Television Network, Afghanistan's largest broadcaster, missed the application deadline for media credentials and is desperately trying to secure a last-minute invitation to cover the NATO Summit in Chicago this weekend.

Chicago Tribune

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CHICAGO — When the NATO Summit convenes this weekend in Chicago, some 2,200 credentialed journalists from around the world are expected to descend upon the McCormick Place meeting facility to chronicle the historic event, which will focus on the future of Afghanistan.

Notably absent, at this point, is the Ariana Television Network, Afghanistan's largest broadcaster, which missed the application deadline for media credentials and is desperately trying to secure a last-minute invitation to cover its own story.

Virginia-based Nazira Karimi, the network's only U.S. correspondent, and her cameraman, have their bags packed but are awaiting word from their Kabul headquarters to see if they have been able to wangle the tightly managed media credentials — nearly one month after the process was closed.

"It would really be a shame if we can't attend this because we are the only Afghan international media, and especially that we broadcast directly from Afghanistan," Hossai Farahi, senior media editor for the network's North American office in Fort Lee, N.J., said Monday.

Launched in 2005, ATN is Afghanistan's largest television network, reaching some 20 million viewers worldwide. Broadcasts emanate via satellite from Kabul in native Afghan languages Dari and Pashto, as well as English. Beyond news, ATN features a variety of programming including children's shows, talk shows and Afghan versions of such U.S. staples as "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "Pimp My Ride."

Media accreditation for the 2012 conference employed an online process administered by Pennsylvania-based Ardian Group. The application deadline was April 13, to allow enough time for background checks by the Secret Service. Announcements of those receiving credentials were emailed last Tuesday, according to ChicagoStories.org, a nonprofit website set up to help acclimate visiting journalists covering the NATO Summit.

The network originally planned to send a Kabul-based reporter to the NATO Summit but didn't follow through with the process, which for foreign journalists also includes obtaining an "I" visa from the U.S. State Department.

Last week, the network decided to send Karimi instead, enlisting the Afghanistan Foreign Ministry in Kabul, its Washington embassy and Farahi.

Topping the agenda at the two-day Chicago summit is mapping out the transition of security responsibility from NATO-led forces to Afghan National Security Forces by the end of 2014. The Afghan network still hopes to be there to broadcast firsthand the decisions that will shape the future of its country.

Also

At least seven Afghan civilians were killed in a pharmacy on Monday in a suspected suicide bombing, an official said, the latest attack in a spate of rising violence in the country. The blast took place in Ghormach, a remote and restive district in a relatively secure area of northwestern Faryab province, provincial governor Abdul Ahad Shafaq said.

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