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Free media under attack: Taliban warn 21 media outlets of dire consequences

AT News Analysis-KABUL: The Taliban had issued a threat against 21 media organizations, including Afghanistan Times, on Friday, warning the outlets of dire consequences for not complying with the codes formulated by the insurgent group.

In a statement, available on the Taliban’s website (http://alemara1.org/?p=45152), the group said that there has been boom in the media industry since its ouster from power but 95 percent of media organizations do not fall in the category of free media.

According to the statement most of the media outlets that the group had warned are financially supported by the foreigners or the West.

“They [media organizations] are serving the donors wholeheartedly. These foreign-funded media outlets are working against the national interests; they have no choice and consider it a liability,” the Taliban said. The Taliban further said that some media outlets and journalists who call themselves independent are intentionally acting like spokesmen for the ‘invaders’ (NATO).

“These media outlets and journalists never miss any opportunity to make propaganda against the mujahideen [holy worriers], despite Taliban have several times humbly requested them to take in account the journalistic principles. They make propaganda against Taliban in order to revenge the defeat of their lords [west] have suffered in battlefield. They fan minor issues to make it a hot topic like that there is differences among the Taliban leaders and they fuel the infighting,” the insurgent group said.

The Taliban also criticized the media for reporting between differences among different militant groups.

“Their first attempt was to publish news of differences and infightings between Taliban and Hezb-i-Islami, in which they failed. Then they started the Daesh game. This has failed to become reality and proved propaganda. And now they started to publish news that the Taliban are fragmented,” the group said while denying emergence of offshoots from Taliban.

Warning the media organizations which are in the hit-list, the Taliban said that such ‘propaganda’ pushed the Tolo TV in mouth of death.  “These media outlets shall know that through such propaganda neither they can revenge and cover the defeat of their lords [foreigners] that they have suffered in the battlefield nor they can bring down morale of the mujahideen,” the group said.

Assuring the listed media outlets of support, in an indirect manner, if they bring change in policy towards the insurgent group, the Taliban said that media organizations supporting Islamic values and national interests would be protected.

Free media in conflict zone has always faced difficulties especially when writ of the government is weak. Several journalists were killed and media houses were attacked since 2001, but the authorities failed to provide any security to the media organizations and protect the journalists. Working as a journalist in Afghanistan has never been easy.

Despite that the media organizations never hesitated to serve Afghans and safeguard the national interests as well as the Islamic values. The local media had not only criticized the militants for their atrocities but also the global actors for killing innocent Afghan people. These media organizations also criticized these actors for “collateral damage”. Take for instance the attack on Kunduz hospital. The organizations that the Taliban had threatened of dire consequences are independent and do not rely on foreign aid or donations. They are on the side of Afghan people in this war.

The militant groups shall also answer that on which side they are. If they are supporting the national interests, they shall renounce violence and stop closing schools, clinics and planting landmines. They should not attack the infrastructure projects. If they are respecting the Islamic values then they shall not kill people, destroy properties and burn orchards. If they are respecting aspirations of Afghan people then they should ask them that what they want—the answer will be no to violence.

For different groups jihad has different meaning. For free Afghan media jihad means to serve the troubled nation and speak against the evil forces that had turned this country into a battlefield. Several journalists were killed in the line of duty and different media organizations were attacked but the fight against evil is continued. However, they never compromised on the code of ethics. To balance the news stories, they always approached the relevant parties. Unfortunately, the militant groups failed to cooperate with media. Insurgents do not believe in embedded journalism. Journalists are spies for them. Therefore, they kill media-persons. Now these groups had to ask how much they respect the journalistic principles. Afghan journalists do not pin any hope on foreigners but see their value in their work and public opinion. Free media never ignored voice of the dissidents. Balance and objectivity remained core of the reporting.

Let the public to judge who is working for foreigners. Let them to decide who is involved in propaganda and who is protecting the national interests.

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