KABUL: One of thecountry’s popular private newspapers, Hasht-e-Subh (8am), editorially blamed both the Taliban militant and the country’s intelligence agency for doing wrong with the media family, as clashes intensified in many volatile parts of the country.
The independent paper wrote about the latest developments in the Spin Boldak district of southern Kandahar province, where the country’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) arrested four journalists for allegedly ‘propaganda’ for the Taliban.
On the other, the Taliban group doesn’t believe in the journalists’ rights, as they spared no effort to kill media activists, the clear example of which is the killing of Danish Siddiqui, a reporter working for the Reuters News Agency.
“Two days ago, four local journalists were arrested by the government on the suspicion of propaganda for the enemy, in southern Kandahar’s Spin Boldak, where they have gone to cover the developments amid the Taliban militants’ onslaught. The paper quoted the country’s Ministry of Interior as saying: “On August 1, the Taliban detained 400 civilians after occupying the district, and that 100 of them had been shot dead.” The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and the Attorney General Office (AGO) emphasized the need to address the claim.”
The paper added that Danish Siddiqui, a Reuters’ reporter and photographer, was killed in a government-Taliban war in Spin Boldak district which has recently been recaptured by the Taliban and that Nazar Mohammad, known as “Jawan Khasha, had been taken under barrage by the militants in the province.
Khasha was a well-known police soldier and comedian who was taken out of his home and shot dead by the militants, the paper regretted.
In the last two week or so, the private independent paper called it shocking and sad news in the province, where the Taliban, however claimed a sole responsibility for the comedian murder for insulting the Islamic Emirate.
According to the paper, allegations about the arrest of 400 civilians and the shooting of 100 of them have not been still clear and the claim should definitely be investigated and followed up. Based on a report from the Association of Free Journalists of Afghanistan, Bismillah Watandust, Qudrat Sultani, Moheb Obaydi and Sanaullah Siyam had gone to Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province, to investigate the Taliban’s allegations of “genocide”, but were detained by the personnel of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) on their way back from the restive district.
The country’s Interior Ministry has also said that the journalists were being investigated, something widened gap between the ministry and the Association of Free Journalists of Afghanistan, as the ministry said the journalists were detained on suspicion of ‘propaganda for the enemy’, while The association said the journalists had gone to investigate the genocide allegations in the district.
The difference in claims by the two sides has obscured the mission of the reporters and their purpose and motivation for traveling to conflicted township. But, the newspaper said the killing and imprisonment of journalists in Kandahar indicates that the work of journalism and information across the country has now become more difficult comparing the past.
The paper went on as saying the government detains journalists simply on suspicion of “propaganda for the enemy, while the Taliban did not believe in the principle of protecting the lives of journalists. The killing of Danish Siddiqui during the Taliban attack on Spin Boldak is a clear example of their negligence on the media workers, as the group has already assassinated many journalists or targeted them during their suicide bombings.
“Society needs reliable, impartial and timely information from conflicted areas. Society will not be satisfied with information from the government and the Taliban about alleged crimes on the battlefield.
So, the need of the society for accurate, reliable and impartial information needs to be quenched by free and independent media,” the paper argued. It added that this was possible, when the parties to the war respect the immunity of journalists and the right of the people to access information. Free media and independent journalists and media workers are neither side of the war, it is wrong to expect that the media and journalists to take side in the conflict as the media and journalists are committed only to the principles of journalism, highly aimed at reflecting the truth.