By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: The Afghanistan Protection and Stability Council (APSC), the country’s major opposition party, called on the National Unity Government to take practical steps for protection of journalists and freedom of speech.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the spokesman of APSC Massoud Trishtwal said that journalists are facing numerous challenges and it is responsibility of the government to protect them and defend the freedom of speech.
He said that the government should not act like a spectator when media is under attack and journalists are targeted but it should take serious steps to safeguard their rights.
“Media as fourth pillar the state is trying best to uphold the democratic values, foster national unity and maintain stability. Therefore, the government is responsible to ensure security of media-persons,” the spokesman said.
He stressed that freedom of speech is need of the hour especially at this critical juncture, and it is Constitutional duty of the government to devise security mechanism to ensure safety of the journalists.
Trishtwal further said that relevant authorities should pay heed to concerns of the newsmen and women in order to protect them. He urged the government to arrest all those who committed violence against journalists.
The APSC counts media as the real protector of the national interests and asked the local media outlets to play role in strengthening the national unity against the armed Taliban insurgents.
Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan Supporting Open Media, a media watchdog, said that anti-Afghan forces were afraid of free media.
Mujib Khilwatgar said, “In the last 14 years, Afghan media suffered heavy casualties. As many as 57 journalists were killed during in the past 14 years.”
He asked the government to resume the peace talks with the Taliban if the militant group restrains from attacking journalists. He also urged the local media to address the slain reporters as “martyrs of freedom of speech”.
Last Wednesday a suicide bomber attacked a minibus of the TOLO TV channel on Darul Aman road. Seven people were killed and 27 others were injured, mostly journalists.
The day is called “Black Wednesday” in the history of Afghan media.