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Editorial: Dwindling media activities

Afghanistan is recognized as the world’s dangerous country for the journalists and media family. Lack of law enforcement, the existence of several militant groups and powerful individuals across the country has often posed high threats to the Afghan media and journalists. It is a crystal clear that working as journalists amid high level of violence that rocked the country needs great courage and guts. Last year, at least 11 journalists lost their precious lives in targeted attacks that remained unclaimed, and the perpetrators yet to be held accountable. In a recent targeted-killing, we lost Nima Rawan, a popular tv presenter who just joined finance ministry as head of the press. He was the most capable, energetic and dynamic Afghan youth. He was murdered during the daylight in Kandahar city. This is not the last and first case in its nature as the country’s capable generation is under immense attack. Unfortunately, despite giving great sacrifices, the Afghan media and journalists have been ignored in many ways and they face challenges from various sides. The Taliban have recently warned the media outlets, blaming them for not being neutral. The same allegations were made by the government regarding the Afghan media family. There have been significantly inclined efforts by the government and Taliban to restrict the media activities. The government earlier tried to forge an amendment, aiming to limit the media’s access to information. Fortunately, whenever there is a move to restrict the freedom of press, it faces strong reactions by the Afghan media and foreign diplomatic missions in Kabul. The Afghan media family is currently caught in a state of complexity. On one hand, the Taliban with their harsh stance towards freedom of speech and expression is threatening the media family with dangerous consequences and on the other hand is the government that has touted protection of democratic values but still tries to dwindle media activities.  What makes it very off the mark and embarrassing is that the Afghan media family doesn’t put hopes on the Taliban to preserve journalists’ rights as the group is primarily famous for its harsh stance regarding the media. There is no freedom of speech in the areas under the Taliban control. But such stance of the government towards the media is really disappointing. Freedom of speech and freedom of press is the main pillar of the Republican and Democratic government. If President Ashraf Ghani is really interested in preserving the democratic elements, he should not stop any effort to protect the media at such a critical moment which is in fact in favor of the government, nation and most importantly it will benefit the peace process. To ensure justice and people’s role in formation of their country, media should be protected, provided with rights and the freedom of press should be devoid of any kind of threats and interference.

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