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Concerns raised after NDS chief and Taliban issue warnings to the media

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(Last Updated On: May 5, 2021)

A number of media advocates said on Wednesday that warnings issued against the media by both government and the Taliban could undermine the hard-won gains in press freedom in Afghanistan over the past 20 years.

Concerns were raised after the National Security Directorate (NDS) chief Ahmad Zia told Parliament on Wednesday that a number of Afghan media outlets were broadcasting or publishing “propaganda in favor of the Taliban.”

The Taliban in turn threatened local media and said they would “face the consequences” for reporting biased stories in favor of the government.

Responding to this, the US Embassy and the UK Embassy in Afghanistan issued a joint statement on Wednesday night condemning the Taliban’s attempts “to silence journalists”.

The embassies said: “The Taliban today, two days after World Press Freedom Day, threatened the Afghan media accusing them of being proxies for the government and ordering them to alter their reporting or they would ‘face the consequences.”

“We know the Taliban propaganda machine constantly manipulates the truth in order to deflect blame for the atrocities they commit onto others and to avoid responsibility for their actions.

“We strongly support Afghanistan’s independent media. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing violence and threats against the media, and the Taliban’s attempts to silence journalists,” the statement read.

This comes after MPs said that NDS chief Ahmad Zia said in Parliament on Wednesday that Afghan media “should be aware of the enemy’s psychological war.”

MP Arif Rahmani tweeted that Zia claimed a number of politicians, experts, and media outlets publicize propaganda in favor of the Taliban. However, he reportedly warned that these individuals and entities would “be treated as a terrorist.”

According to Rahmani, the NDS Chief further said that propaganda broadcast by a number of television channels in favor of the Taliban “is shocking.”

He said “this is not freedom of speech, but it is an abuse of freedom of expression; We will not tolerate it.”

In response to Rahmani’s tweet, the Taliban, in turn, warned Afghan media outlets against publishing or broadcasting one-sided reports.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the group said in a series of tweets: “For several days, the Taliban have been witnessing one sided-propaganda and publications by some media outlets.”

He stated that the NDS is directly involved in such activities, adding: “Media must be aware of maintaining their neutrality” and avoid becoming a “propaganda tool” for the government in such a sensitive situation in the country.

Mujahid stated that if the media continue to broadcast or publish “misleading news and incorrect information” their objectivity could be questioned.

He said the same applies to the spreading of false news and misinformation by the media and journalists.

Should this continue, the onus will be on media executives to deal with the consequences and warned media executives and media workers against publicizing one-sided news in favor of the government.

Meanwhile, the media advocacy organization, NAI, and Afghanistan Free Press Hub said the remarks by the NDS Chief and the Taliban are concerning.

“The NDS Chief has accused some media of cooperating with the Taliban. He has to clarify which media outlets [he is referring to] and which media outlets have done this. A general accusation against all media is against the law. The Taliban also warned the media. This situation risks the work of the media in Afghanistan,” NAI Chief Executive Mujib Khilwatgar said.

The NDS, meanwhile, in a statement rejected the report and stated that Zia’s remarks were misinterpreted.
 
Afghanistan’s national spy agency said: “Disclosure and distortion of the contents of secret meetings to the public is unacceptable, and is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution and contrary to the principles of the internal duties of the House of Representatives.”
 
“The NDS has been at the forefront of protecting the freedom of expression and journalists,” the statement read.

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Afghanistan will no longer turn into battlefield for superpower nations: Muttaqi

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi says the Islamic Emirate will “not allow Afghanistan to enter the battlefield of powerful countries again”.

At an event on Thursday at Kabul University, Muttaqi said that Afghanistan has good diplomatic relations with regional countries, and a number of Afghan embassies in the region and the world receive orders from Kabul.

“After this, we don’t want Afghanistan to be a battlefield between the superpowers. If there is a confrontation, it should be positive and economic,” said Muttaqi.

“According to the geography of Afghanistan, the Islamic Emirate is trying to make Afghanistan the center of economy and connectivity because the region is in great need of energy.”

He emphasized that Afghanistan does not have a problem with the world and that it “has been practically proven that Afghan soil is not used against any country.”

“We also call on the countries of the world that we do not have a problem with any country, the commitment made by the Islamic Emirate is that the soil of Afghanistan will not be used against any country,” he said.

He also said that the report of international organizations in reducing corruption and improving the economic situation in Afghanistan is “hopeful”.

A number of other officials of the Islamic Emirate have said that Afghanistan has been able to move towards improvement in the economic sector despite sanctions.

“In one and a half years, how has the Islamic Emirate been able to move towards improvement in the economic field despite the political and banking restrictions?” asked Deputy Minister of Economy Abdul Latif Nazari.

“You must have read the recent report of the World Bank that Afghanistan’s exports have broken an unprecedented record.”

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Foreign Ministry condemns US move to impose further travel restrictions on some IEA leaders

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) considers the recent statement by the US State Department on additional visa restrictions on some leaders of the Islamic Emirate as an obstacle to the development of ties between the two sides.

According to a statement published on Thursday, the foreign ministry said that the IEA as a responsible government, is committed to all rights of Afghans which are necessitated by the Islamic religion.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminds the United States that despite the financial and banking sanctions, the Afghan government strives to provide its people with a prosperous life,” the statement read.

“The continuation of illegitimate sanctions on the financial and banking system of Afghanistan is a flagrant violation of the human rights of Afghans, restricting access of Afghans to many spheres of a prosperous life, including education and health.”

The ministry also said that the US “must remain committed to the Doha Agreement” and through implementation, demonstrate that legal documents and agreements signed with the US are trustworthy, adding that the ministry is ready to discuss all outstanding issues with the US.

According to MoFA, the IEA condemns the recent decision of the US and underscores that the disputes should be resolved via diplomatic channels and positive steps.
“Our biliteral interactions have proven that pressure is not helpful in resolving issues,” the statement read.

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Our Afghan policy has failed: Pakistani senator

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed on Tuesday said “our Afghan Policy has failed”, local media outlet ARY News reported.

Addressing the Senate earlier this week, Mushaid Hussain said that “failing to formulate the counter-terrorism policy is our incapacity”.

“We are in the state of war since last 43 years,” he said. “Five-billion-dollar Afghan Jihad fought, the consequences are before us,” he said.

“The battle for power will devastate Pakistan. People want a solution of the problems, an incompetence will not be allowed”, he said.

Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani had earlier said that a joint session of Parliament scheduled for February 8 should include a discussion on the country’s national anti-terrorism policy.

“Terrorism has been on the rise, while the political parties are busy in the political tug of war,” he lamented. “All political parties should sit in the parliament to hold a national dialogue,” he advised.

Islamabad has increasingly been pointing fingers at Afghanistan accusing the Islamic Emirate of providing sanctuary to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group which has carried out number attacks against Pakistan in the past few months.

The IEA has however continued to deny reports that TTP is being given a safe haven in the country, and has repeatedly told its neighor that militant groups will not be allowed to pose a threat to any country from within Afghanistan.

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