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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

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

Next Story

US-Taliban Meeting Cancelled, 14 Members on “The US and UN Blacklist”

A day later, Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed the talks during a press conference, calling it a “game changer.”

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FILE - Taliban political chief Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, in the first row, second from left, Abdul Salam Hanafi and other Taliban officials pray during the intra-Afghan talks in Moscow, Feb. 6, 2019. VOA

An upcoming meeting in Pakistan between a delegation of the United States and Taliban representatives has been cancelled, according to information coming from both sides.

A Taliban leader confirmed, on condition of anonymity, that the meeting was cancelled, “by the Americans.” A Taliban statement issued later in the day said the talks were postponed because many members of its 14 person negotiating team were unable to go overseas since they are on “the US and UN blacklist.” Several of them are on the U.N. Security Council sanctions list which bars them from international travel.

Meanwhile, a U.S. official said Zalmay Khalilzad, who was supposed to lead the American delegation, is not planning to visit Islamabad this week.

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FILE – U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, center, speaks during a roundtable discussion with Afghan media at the U.S Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan Jan. 28, 2019. VOA

The U.S. said it had not received an official invitation from the government of Pakistan for this meeting which was first announced by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid a couple of days ago.

Mujahid’s statement had set February 18 as the date of the talks and said a formal invitation had been issued by Pakistan. In addition, he said, the Taliban delegation would also meet the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

A day later, Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed the talks during a press conference, calling it a “game changer.”

“The next round of negotiations with the Taliban will be in Pakistan, and as a result of these negotiations, there is a chance of stability in Afghanistan,” he said.

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FILE – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (R) speaks with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad (3rd L) during a meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Islamabad, Pakistan, in this handout photo released Jan. 18, 2018. VOA

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry reacted strongly to the announcement of a meeting in Islamabad, saying it was in violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution.

“#Afghanistan complains to #UNSecurityCouncil on #Pakistan’s engagements with the Taliban on which #Afg Govenrment is not consulted,” Tweeted Sibghatullah Admadi, a spokesman for the Afghan foreign office.

Previously, Afghanistan launched a similar complaint against Russia for allowing Taliban members to travel to Moscow for a conference in which nearly 50 Afghans, including various political leaders, former jihadi commanders, and civil society activists were invited. However, the Afghan government was not invited to that conference because the Taliban have so far refused to engage with the Kabul administration despite pressure from the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and others.

President Ashraf Ghani lashed out at those attending the conference saying they had no “executive authority” to make any agreements.

“Let hundreds of such meetings be held,” he said.

Some analysts say Ghani’s statements indicated his frustration at being left out of the negotiations between the Americans and the Taliban that first started last Summer. Since then, the two sides have held several rounds of talks.

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The last meeting in Doha early January lasted for six days and Khalilzad said the two sides had agreed “in principle” to a withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in return for guarantees that Afghan soil will not be used by any terrorist groups or individuals.

Speaking in a public event at Washington based United States Institute of Peace, Khalilzad said the Taliban do not want to “sit with the government alone” because they did not want to give President Ghani an advantage in the presidential elections scheduled in July.

“There are indications that they will be willing to sit with the government in a multi-party arrangement,” he said. (VOA)