Ultimately, Yuseffi accepted, believing that Afghanistan's long-term independence required the connective power of media. Comprised of 34 far-flung
provinces and profoundly divided in terms of ethnicity and language, the nation was constantly struggling to forge a coherent sense of identity and
purpose. Radio Khorasan was to become the Panjshiri people's connection to the rest of the nation, bringing in news and debate from across Afghanistan. Its
production staff was to produce and distribute material proclaiming the valley's place in Afghan life and society. But NATO, of course, had its own goals
The station was offered to the people of the valley as an extension of the centuries old "shura" system, whereby issues of communal importance are made
public under the guidance of elder, male leaders chosen from influential local families. All complaints about station content were directed at mullahs who
provided a buffer between Yuseffi and wary listeners. At first, the station aired public service announcements and hosted virtual forums intended to
articulate and, ultimately, justify the actions of NATO in the Panjshir. Fortunately for Yuseffi, this mostly meant announcing construction projects.
Thanks to Massoud and his fighters, the Taliban had virtually no power base within the valley, and military action was rare.
Nonetheless, the need to impose a one-size-fits-all communication model on the vast, diverse country of Afghanistan brought significant problems for
Yuseffi and his staff. To this day, some Panjshir citizens hold a grudge against Khorasan's most popular show, "Salam Watandar," an American-funded news
program produced in Kabul and distributed nationwide. Locals took issue with the programs' subtle choices in terminology. In referring to the local
paramilitary leaders, "Salam Watandar" employed the word jangsaalaar, which means "warlord" and has connotations of violence and corruption.
In most provinces, the word choice was not noteworthy, perhaps even obvious. In the Panjshir, however, it caused an uproar. The term was taken as a highly
disrespectful reference to the fallen hero Massoud who, although a warlord in the literal sense, was known for his selflessness and commitment to Allah and
country. NATO's generally sound and ostensibly unifying messaging strategy thus collided with the complexity of local Afghan politics, nearly shutting down
Radio Khorasan with a single, ill-conceived phrase.
But Yuseffi, having banked considerable good will with local leaders, apologized and ultimately persevered. Slowly, as employees grew in competence, a
small news division developed, with journalists moving throughout the valley, filing reports, and occasionally breaking stories that made news beyond the
Panjshir. A team of people who had rarely even heard a radio before starting at Khorasan became producers, editors, and hosts, putting together programs
that asked locals not only to think deeply about local issues, but also to put them into the broader context of a reuniting Afghan nation. Long held as a
prime example of the inability for Afghanistan to coalesce into a single, coherent political unit, the geographically isolated Panjshir was slowly
integrating into the greater political landscape, and, by 2010, Radio Khorasan was playing a key part.