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Editorial: Freedom of expression

After collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001, Afghanistan has gained numerous achievements in every front, and one of it was freedom of expression. The country has never before had more news outlets comparing today as there are hundreds print media, tens of television stations, hundreds of radio stations and some news agencies. The sole reason behind their creation is to put lend behind depress voices of Afghans masses who have been passed three decades of war that still bearing the brunt of casualties. Media in Afghanistan has grown rapidly during these years. During Taliban time, there was one radio station called Vice of Sharia, it was used to broadcast propaganda of the Taliban insurgent only. Anyways, when Taliban regime toppled, the newly democratic government under administrative of ex-president Hamid Karzai, has provided opportunity for the war-hit Afghans to practice their freedom of speech by establishing numerous media outlets.  The previous and incumbent governments have termed free media as one of their baggiest achievements and always showed stung commitment for its preservation. At the same time it is also heart-wrenching to witness growing of violence against news organizations and journalists.  It is also bothersome to see that journalist suffocating and mar from questioning. During press briefing, President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday refused to respond to a question, saying it was out of the subject. He called on reporters to ask question regarding his trip to Australia, Singapore and Indonesia, but later he responded to several questions which were not within the framework of this trip. Tolonews reporter asked is whether rule of law in National Unity Government is facing questions, however, President Ghani said that question have to be limited to the trip, and said he would answer other questions another time. This behavior at somehow have frustrated media outlets.  NAI (Organization Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan) has accused President Ghani of censoring media. Nevertheless, President Ghani has consistently tried to portray himself as a staunch supporter of freedom of the press, but his refusal to answer question has hurt journalists. We believe that the government is supporting freedom of expression, and it has been proved practically as well. But such behavior, even if it’s not intentionally would defiantly put negative perception among Afghan media family. Government institutions should bear in mind that Afghan journalists have faced increasing intimidation and violence in recent years. Afghan journalists are vulnerable to threats, intimidation, and violence, particularly in relation to reporting on sensitive issues, including corruption, land grabbing, violence against women, and human rights abuses. Moreover, Afghanistan suffered its deadliest year on record for journalists in 2016, according to report, saying that country is the second most dangerous for reporters in the world after Syria. At least 13 journalists were killed last year, the Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee said in that time, adding that the Taliban was behind at least ten of the deaths. It is widely believe that the enemies of Afghan masses have not been victorious in the face-to-face war against the government, now they want to silence the media in order to force the government towards dictatorship. Taking the ground reality into view, the government should support media family instead of ignoring them.

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