By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, addressed a gathering of journalists on the advent of the National Journalist Day on Thursday evening, calling them defenders of the country’s future.
“You, the journalists are not only defenders of the freedom of expression, but also defenders of Afghanistan future,” the country’s president told the gathering held at the Salam Khana Palace, which was attended by the First Lady, the Second Vice President and a number of journalists and media professionals from the center and provinces of the country as well as members of the families of the martyred journalists.
President Ghani expressed his regret over the crash of an Air Force helicopter in Behsud district of Maidan Wardak province, saying that the related officials will be investigated and the perpetrators will be punished.
He stressed that the blood of the martyrs of our security and defense forces will never be wasted. “Clear declaration of the presidential office and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in general, for the freedom of expression is fundamental and principled with no doubt in this regard.”
Expressing his condolences to the families of the martyrs of freedom of expression, the president said: “Our support for journalists and the media is not just in words, but today $843,000 was donated to the Journalists’ Monetary Fund by me and the First Lady and a number of private sector organizations.”
He said he would order the creation of the Medal of Freedom of Expression and that Afghanistan could not live without freedom and that dictatorship would not work in this country. “Afghans have sacrificed for freedom for 140 years, hundreds of people have worked hard and you are their inheritors.”
President Ghani went on as saying that a table should be drawn up and all government departments should be rated by journalists in terms of access to information.
He added that the safety of journalists was still the duty of the government, and we have to come up with a plan in this regard.
“Attack on freedom of expression is an attack on the future of Afghanistan and the information the journalists gain through courage and sacrifice was extremely important and respected.”
“The 42-year-old violence needs a national consensus that needed to be healed, and you are not only defenders of freedom of expression, but also the defenders of Afghanistan’s future,” said the president.
Speaking on the occasion, Acting Minister of Information and Culture Mohammad Tahir Zuhair said that the president-led government has always cooperated with journalists and provided them with firm support.
The country’s president issued two decrees on handing over of the government medals of Mir Masjedi Khan and Malalai, the hero of the Maiwand War, to 13 martyred journalists who performed their duties with sincerity, courage and impartiality.
Also, Ghazi Mir Masjedi Khan’s state medal was awarded to Abdul Hamid Mubariz for his efforts in the field of press and freedom of expression and then the president awarded the trophies to Abdul Hamid Mobariz and the inheritors of martyrs.