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2016 was the Deadliest Year for Journalists in Afghanistan, says Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee (AJSC)

016 has been the deadliest year for journalists in Afghanistan, now the second most unsafe country for journalists with a nearly 13 reporters brutally assassinated

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Afghan Journalist, Pixabay
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Kabul, Jan 19, 2017: According to a report released Thursday, Afghanistan suffered its deadliest year on record for journalists in 2016. The report stated that the country has grabbed the spot of the second most dangerous nation for reporters in the world after Syria.

Not less than 13 journalists were killed last year, the Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee (AJSC) said, adding that the Taliban was responsible for at least ten of the deaths.

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101 cases of violence against the media in 2016, a 38 percent increase on 2015, had been found by the committee; underscoring the threat against a small band of media workers who put their lives on the line to report events in their war-torn country and help the events reach the masses.

“This increase in violence against journalists has turned Afghanistan into the second most dangerous country for journalists in the world, after Syria,” chairman of the committee, Najib Sharifi,  told reporters on Thursday.

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The report marked that a shift in the Taliban’s policy and actions towards the media was the “main driver of the increase in the level of threats and deadly violence against journalists”.

Seven employees of popular TV channel Tolo, often critical of the militants, were slaughtered in a Taliban suicide bombing episode in Kabul in what the insurgent group said was a revenge for “spreading propaganda” against them in January last year.

Since the Taliban were dethroned from power in 2001, it was the first major attack on an Afghan media organisation and spotlighted the dangers media workers face in Afghanistan as the safety issue worsens amid a growing tide of militant attacks and increasing violence.

In June, the Taliban murdered American journalist David Gilkey and his Afghan translator in a rocket attack in southern Helmand province.

But the report also pointed out the fact that the majority of violent incidents against journalists were executed by government forces, with the European Union’s raging criticism regarding the “alarming” trend.

“The government should take utmost measures to bring perpetrators of threats, attacks and killing of journalists to justice,” the EU delegation to Afghanistan said in a statement.

According to the figures presented by AJSC, 28 journalists and media workers have been killed in the past five years in Afghanistan.

The raising atrocities against media must be handled carefully and the Government must come up with steps to prevent more such incidents from happening.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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Copyright 2017 NewsGram

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Taliban And The U.S. Set To Meet in UAE

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan 17 years ago and the war with the Taliban has since killed nearly 150,000 people, including Afghan civilians

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USA, afghanistan, taliban
U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

A Pakistan-arranged meeting between U.S. and Taliban officials will be held Monday in the United Arab Emirates to push a political settlement to the war in Afghanistan.

The special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, will lead the U.S. team at the talks in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the gulf state, a senior Pakistani official privy to the development confirmed to VOA on Sunday.

The official, requesting anonymity, said Islamabad has facilitated the dialogue after President Donald Trump wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan earlier this month seeking his cooperation in bringing the Taliban to the table for peace negotiations.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a brief statement sent to VOA, has confirmed participation of its political negotiators in Monday’s meeting with American officials, but said that representatives of the host country, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia will also be in attendance.

Imran Khan, Taliban
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Nov. 21, 2018. VOA

Initially, it was Khan who disclosed on Friday that Pakistan-aided talks between U.S. and Taliban officials would take place on December 17, though he would not say where.

The Pakistani prime minister, while speaking in the northwestern city of Peshawar, explained his country has agreed to assist in Afghan peace efforts because Washington has changed its position by requesting help, instead of saying Islamabad is not doing enough, as U.S. leaders have previously insisted.

A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday hailed Khan’s remarks and support for a political reconciliation in the war-ravaged neighboring country.

“The United States welcomes any actions by the Pakistani government to promote greater cooperation, including fostering negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghans,” the spokesperson told VOA.

“Special Representative Khalilzad has met, and will continue to meet, with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan,” noted the U.S. embassy official.

taliban, afghanistan
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, right, head of the Taliban’s political council in Qatar, takes part in the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Nov. 9, 2018. VOA

 

In his speech on Friday, Khan said that if peace were achieved in Afghanistan, his country will be the immediate beneficiary in terms of security, economic stability and regional connectivity.

Khalilzad, is visiting regional countries to gather support for Afghan peace talks. He is 14 days into an 18-day visit to the region and has already visited Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Belgium.

Since taking office in September, the Afghan-born U.S. special envoy has held two meetings with the Taliban in Qatar, where the insurgent group operates its so-called “political office.”

But those talks have been for the sake of talks, say insurgent and Pakistani officials.

Demands, accusations

Pakistani officials privy to Khalilzad’s interaction with the Taliban have told VOA that until now no progress has been achieved because the insurgents adamantly demand “a date or timeframe” for all U.S. and NATO troops to withdraw from Afghanistan before the Taliban decides to participate in an intra-Afghan peace process.

Afghanistan, Taliban
Security forces inspect the site of a deadly blast in the center of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 12, 2018. VOA

 

Washington has long maintained Taliban leaders are sheltering in Pakistan with covert support from the country’s intelligence agency. Washington has been urging Islamabad to use its influence to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table.

Pakistani officials say their influence over the Taliban has significantly declined over the years because the insurgents have gained control over large areas of Afghanistan and continue to pose serious battlefield challenges for U.S.-backed Afghan security forces.

Also Read: U.S. Welcomes Pakistan’s Actions Towards Peace in Afghanistan

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan 17 years ago and the war with the Taliban has since killed nearly 150,000 people, including Afghan civilians, security forces, insurgents and more than 2,400 American soldiers, according to an American University study released recently.

The longest war effort in U.S. history has also cost Washington nearly one trillion dollars. The Taliban has expanded its insurgent activities and currently controls or hotly contests about half of Afghanistan. The conflict is said to have killed more Afghan civilians and security forces in 2018 than in any other year. (VOA)