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Watchdog slams peace negotiators for ‘sidelining’ media

KABUL: NAI, a non-government body monitoring activities and rights of media outlets, says that the media had been marginalized during talks held between US and Taliban officials over peace process.

The watchdog said Monday that the two negotiating parties should have paid attention to media freedom and achievements gained regarding the freedom of speech in the past 18 years.

“Freedom of speech as a value should be included in every kind of documents considered as the results of talks that lead towards a lasting peace. A particular guarantee for support of media and freedom of speech is needed to be delivered. Also, the media outlets should be shared by the details of the negotiations,” said Mojib Khalvatgar, head of the body.

He urged that the culprits of violence against reporters should not be granted pardon by any means.

The US chief peace negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad sat with the representatives of Taliban in Qatari capital for the fourth round to find a way to bring the militants to negotiations with the government of Afghanistan. Khalilzad arrived in Kabul on Sunday after a six-day long negotiation to inform President Ashraf Ghani about the results of the talks.

Separately, President Ghani in a national address, assured that all values such as national unity, territorial integrity and basic rights of Afghans would be maintained in the peace process.

“Our commitment is that we bring peace and prevent every possible calamity and division. But there are values that are not negotiable such as national unity, territorial integrity, national sovereignty, central and powerful government and the citizens’ basic rights,” Ghani said Monday.

A number of journalists, however, say if the freedom of speech and freedom of media are not focused during the peace talks, they would turn down interest in reporting.

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