Media personnel in war stricken Afghanistan have observed the Journalist National Day amidst mourning losses of scores of colleagues, including Sultan Mahmood Khairkhwa killed in Khost province on previous Friday. In connection with the Journalist Day, gatherings arranged in Kabul, Jalalabad and other places, whereas the participants besides mourning losses of their fellow colleagues have also exchanged views on forthcoming threats to their lives as well as ways and means for their safety and security. Second Vice President National Unity government Mr. Muhammad Sarwar Danish was the key speaker in Kabul ceremony whereas he in his address said freedom of the press, which is one of the biggest achievements of Afghanistan in the past 18 years, should be preserved in the peace talks with the Taliban – who were once against freedom of the press during their rule in Kabul between 1996 to 2001. Reaffirming government and Afghans determination of keeping peace in high esteem, Danish said, “we are supporting peace in order to preserve the past 18 years’ achievement, especially the freedom of the press.
“All stakeholders in Afghan peace talks should assure the people that freedom of the press will be maintained.” Highlighting importance’s of press freedom and expression, he said that without it democracy is incomplete. He pointed out that Afghanistan is facing crucial stage of its history, therefore, responsibility rests with journalists, analysts and public opinion makers to keep in mind their prime responsibilities at this stage. Since 9/11, Afghanistan proved to be more dangerous for media people. Started with killing of four journalists included three foreigners and one Afghan by armed persons at Saroobi, Kabul in last days of third week of November 2001 and Khairkhwa’s latest loss at Khost, over 120 media personnel have been fell victims of terror and violence in Afghanistan, unlike of previous years, 2018 proved more violent due to killing of 17 journalists and injuries to scores of others. Little before killing of Khairkhwa in Khost, last week, Nisar Ahmadi, a local TV journalist in Helmand, was wounded in an IED blast in Lashkargah city. A report reveals that 11 cases of violence were recorded against female journalists. Despite threats to media personnel and challenges to media outlets, 57 new media outlets began activities in the country during 2018, the report added. According to Afghan government that there are 96 TV channels, 65 radio stations and 911 print media in Kabul, as well as 107 TV channels, 284 radio stations and 416 print media in other provinces. The First Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish said last month that there are 1,879 active media outlets in Afghanistan. He said the freedom the press and the media are the main achievements of Afghanistan in the past 18 years and that they will not be ignored in the peace process. Danish is right that media made too much improvement in last 18 years but the government, law enforcing agencies and others had failed to ensure due safety and protection to media as well as just right of press freedom and expression. Still Media is chained in all over Afghanistan whereas not only the government but the international organizations are playing role of silent spectator. Similarly the so-called press freedom champions from the so-called civilized world, especially the self-styled “media rights bodies” had also failed in fulfilling of its responsibilities. Now it is the time for media personnel from all over Afghanistan to initiate a strive for ensuring its own safety and freedom.