It is typical of the fourth estate to decry the state’s iron hand when it strikes loud and hard. The ban on Pakistani newspapers by the Afghan government has been condemned by Afghan journalists who have asked for dialogue between media personnel of either country.
On Friday, Afghanistan banned all Pakistani newspapers in the country alleging that they were a ‘conduit for Taliban propaganda’ and published reports against Afghanistan’s national interests. “The newspapers are causing discontent between our countrymen,” said a statement by the Afghan interior ministry.
‘No positive results’
Afghanistan’s senior journalists stressed that media persons from both countries should sit together to discuss how to convey the truth without resorting to propaganda.
“I believe that the ban on Pakistani newspapers is no solution and I do not support such curbs,” said President of the National Union of Journalists of Afghanistan Abdul Hameed Mubariz while talking to The Express Tribune.
Mubariz said the recent tension over the cross-border attacks may have led to the ban on Pakistani papers. “Afghans are very sensitive about Pakistan’s rocket-shelling in Kunar and Nuristan,” he added.
Another senior Afghan journalist Sami Yousafzai, who reports for Newsweek magazine, described the Afghan ban as an unhealthy approach. “Many Pakistani newspapers, especially the English ones, have adopted a balanced approach towards events,” he said. However, he said that some Pakistani newspapers carry content which is not well received in Afghanistan.
Yousafzai added that the ban on newspapers will hardly be effective as people can always access newspaper content via the internet. He lamented the banning of Afghan TV channels in Pakistan.
Haji Sharafat, editor of the Afghan Islamic Press, said: “As an Afghan journalist, I would say that the ban on Pakistani papers will not have any positive results.” He added that action should be taken only if a certain newspaper was involved in propaganda against the Afghan government.
The Afghan interior ministry instructed the border police in Nangarhar, Nuristan and Kunar provinces to ban the import of the newspapers and ordered them to collect all newspapers.
“The newspapers recently sent to Afghanistan mainly include reports against the Afghan forces. These reports are at odds with the Afghan people’s religious, cultural and social values and standards of Afghanistan’s freedom of speech,” the Afghan interior ministry said.
Islamabad has not shown any reaction to the Afghan move.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.