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NDS claims journalists arrested in Kandahar for ‘collaborating’ with Taliban

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(Last Updated On: August 1, 2021)

The Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) stated Sunday that four journalists were arrested in southern Kandahar province this week for “collaborating” with the Taliban militants.

The journalists – three reporters from Nation Voice [Millat Ghag] Radio, Bismillah Watandost, Qudratullah Sultani, and Mohibullah Obaidi; and Sanullah Siam who claimed to be working with China’s Xinhua news agency – were arrested after they visited the Spin Boldak border crossing last week after it had been seized by the Taliban.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the NDS said the reporters met and interviewed Taliban leaders and Pakistan spy agency (ISI) officials – including Mullah Gul Agha and Mawlavi Manzor Taliban spy chiefs; General Mobin and Faizullah, two members of ISI; and Mullah Yaqoob, the son of former Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The meeting reportedly took place in the house of former Kandahar Police Chief General Abdul Raziq Spin Boldak in Kandahar province.

The NDS stated that the reporters wanted to “purify” the Taliban and “to ignore the inhuman acts of this terrorist group in some provinces of the country, especially the tragic events in Spin Boldak region so as to direct the public opinion in favor of the Taliban.”

The NDS stated that the Nation Voice [Millat Ghag] Radio Station was illegally operating as it has no license from the Ministry of Culture and Information.

Meanwhile, Xinhua rejected Sanaullah Siam’s claim that he was working for the news agency.

“Hereby Xinhua denies the claim made by Mr. Sayam (Siam) as Sayam is not the employee of Xinhua. In the meantime, Xinhua confirms that Mr. Sayam as a freelancer used to sell his products and Xinhua like other news agencies sometimes used to buy photos from him, and buying photos in no way means that Sayam is Xinhua’s staff,” the agency said in a statement.

The NDS stated that Siam was illegally operating under Xinhua’s name.

“Recently, Bismillah Watandost had a mission to make contact with Kandahar governor and encourage him to hand over the province to the Taliban so that they (Taliban) hold Eid prayers in the Kandahar government compound; therefore, Kandahar governor in a letter urged the Kandahar NDS directorate office to arrest these reporters,” the NDS claimed.

This comes after human rights and media freedom advocates last week called on authorities in Afghanistan to release the four journalists.

But Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement late Friday that “as the Afghan conflict escalates, all parties seem intent on silencing the country’s media.”

“Unless charged with a genuine crime, the four journalists should be released immediately,” the statement read.

Reports indicate that the four traveled to the district to investigate reports of Afghan civilian killings by Taliban insurgents.

According to HWR, Siam is a free-lance cameraman.

“The arrests …underscore rising concerns the Afghan government is trying to shield itself from media criticism. Among the many threats they face, Afghanistan’s embattled journalists should not also have to face prosecution for doing their jobs,” said HWR.

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Pakistan, Russia to ‘assess’ IEA’s performance

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

Pakistan and Russia would review progress of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) in terms of fulfilling its commitments made to the international community on forming an inclusive government, and to deny terrorist groups a haven to operate from its soil, official sources told Pakistani media on Sunday.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is in Moscow, is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart, Sargey Lavrov on Monday and one of the key issues on their agenda is Afghanistan, The Tribune reported.

This is Zardari’s first visit to Moscow as the foreign minister and comes amid rising concerns on the part of Pakistan over the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group, which Islamabad says is being provided sanctuary in Afghanistan.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a tweet that the two ministers would discuss the fight against terrorism and a number of regional topics, including the situation in Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine.

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OIC calls on IEA to allow females to get an education

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Sunday called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities to strive towards reopening schools and universities for girls and enable them to enroll in all levels of education.

In a series of tweets the OIC General Secretariat expressed its disappointment over the decision announced on Saturday by the IEA’s ministry of higher education, banning female students from taking university entrance exams this year in all public and private universities across the country.

“This latest decree further tightens the sweeping restrictions proclaimed by the Kabul de facto authorities on girls’ and women’s access to education and public work,” OIC tweeted.

The ban comes shortly after the OIC Executive Committee convened on 11 January 2023 an Extraordinary Meeting on the “Recent Developments and the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan”.

The Final Communique of the meeting called on the IEA to “…strive towards reopening schools and universities for girls and enable them to enroll in all levels of education and all specializations required by the Afghan people.”

The organization urged IEA to reconsider this latest decision and earlier edicts especially for its far-reaching social and economic ramifications.

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US special envoy to hold talks with foreign partners and Afghan diaspora

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West is this week visiting Pakistan, Germany, and Switzerland for talks with “partners, Afghans, and humanitarian aid organizations about the shared interests in Afghanistan”, the US State Department said Sunday.

According to the statement, Thomas West’s week-long (January 29 – February 4) visit to Pakistan, Germany, and Switzerland is aimed at consulting with partners and Afghan diasporas on the many challenges the people of Afghanistan, women, and girls in particular are currently facing.

“I will travel to Pakistan, Germany, and Switzerland Jan 29-Feb 4 to consult with partners, Afghans, and humanitarian relief organizations regarding extraordinary challenges we face in supporting the Afghan people,” West tweeted.

Foreign governments and international aid organizations have repeatedly called on the Islamic Emirate authorities to reverse the decision and allow Afghan women and girls to attend education, work, sports, and public life, however, nothing has changed for the better so far.

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