‘The Ministry': Introducing the Afghanistan Version of ‘The Office’

Somewhere, Ricky Gervais is giggling devilishly

Last year, some documentary makers filmed the daily activities of the Ministry of Garbage in Hechland. This is their film.

So reads the scrawl in the English subtitles at the beginning of the trailer for "The Ministry," a mockumentary very much in the vein of "The Office" that will soon air on Tolo TV, Afghanistan's most popular commercial television station.

The comedy takes place not at a paper supply company but at the Ministry of Garbage. It focuses on the daily travails of Dawlat, a married and probably corrupt bureaucrat who completed his "higher education at a university in Zorland."

The trailer finds his underlings squabbling over the use of staplers, complaining about widespread government bribery and nepotism, and explaining how they came to work in such a miserable office. It also features a dottering elderly man who boasts that he has "singlehandedly prevented many suicide attacks."

Now, "The Ministry" is no comedy gem, even though many of its references have been lost in translation. To be sure, unless you are very generous with your laughter, you will only chortle at the strangeness of the proceedings in the trailer, its off-putting smooth jazz soundtrack and its non-sequitur sound effects that involve multiple barnyards noises.

But regardless of its quality, if "The Ministry" is one of the fruits of the liberation of Afghanistan from the oppression of the Taliban, then perhaps this is what George W. Bush meant with that "Mission Accomplished!" banner.