Media advocates and international partners of Afghanistan have denounced the Taliban insurgency for threatening local journalists for allegedly not being impartial in their reporting of the country’s long war.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, unknown gunmen assassinated a former Afghan television anchor in southern Kandahar province. The slain man, identified as Naimat Rawan, was currently heading the media section at the Afghan Finance Ministry. Rawan had only three weeks ago ended his contract with TOLO News channel, Afghanistan’s largest media network.
The renewed assault on Afghan media came as battlefield hostilities between government forces and the Taliban have spiked particularly since May 1, when the United States and NATO allies formally began pulling their troops out of Afghanistan after nearly 20 years.
Indeed, the alarming escalation in the climate of intimidation and harassment of the media and its practitioners is adversely affecting freedom of expression and access to information. The Taliban militants and other terrorist groups have joined forces to pressure the media and intimidate the journalists through resorting to violence and targeted attacks.
Taliban have always shown that only talk the language of gun and violence. If they are challenged by the media, they have no logic to defend their stance but to eliminate journalists physically. The country’s national media has challenged the Taliban through raising tough questions. In two TV interviews recently, the Taliban political spokesperson Naeem Wardak escaped the questions through leaving his seat or cutting his contact with the interviewer which clearly shows that the group even cannot justify its own works and is not able to answer to public questions.
Afghan media is bringing the public plight and challenges into the attention of government officials and provide a platform to the public to have their say and express their challenges. Afghan citizens send their messages to the government through the media and tell them about their problems. With this in mind, media acts as a bridge between the government officials and citizens in addition to revealing the activities of the officials to the public.
The Taliban should understand that media is not the proponent or opponent of the government or groups but acts as impartial means of information. For instance, if media does not maintain its impartiality, it will not give space to the Taliban spokespersons and will not reflect the statements of their leadership. Media is simply trying to serve as bridge and reflect the facts and true situation to the citizens.
Therefore, the warring parties should do more to provide the occasion for media to reflect the true and unbiased news and let the public know about the ongoing situation in their country. threatening media won’t bear any positive result, rather keeping people at bay.
The warring parties have to also stop targeting journalists and media practitioners since violence against them has no justification. The government has to do more for the protection of journalists and media workers.
Furthermore, the international community and the world should support the media and the gains made by it in the last two decades. Violence against media has to stop immediately.