Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 27th, 2018

A glance at challenges of media in Afghanistan

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A glance at challenges of media in Afghanistan

Freedom of speech has been facing may ups and downs in Afghanistan while considered one of the top achievements of the new political system. After a few months of relatively calm,last week Abdul Manan Arghand, who worked as journalist for Kabul News TV, was shot by gunmen in the way to work in the southern city of Kandahar, the attack raises new concerns might be faced by media workers in Afghanistan. The attack came the same day a meeting in Kabul to discuss how to safeguard journalists. However, in a recent report revealed by the Organization of Journalists Without Borders, Afghanistan is ranked 118th in the world in 2018 stepping two levels up in comparison to 2017 which was the bloodiest year for journalists in Afghanistan, with at least 20 killed and 169 cases of violence or threats.
Attending the recent events, the Second Vice president,Sarwar Danish welcomed the ascending positions of Afghanistan ranked by Journalist without border and said it is a great achievement for Afghanistan.He alsoappreciated the activities and effectiveness of Joint Committee of the Government and media in the field of media protection, follow-up of violations against journalists, creation of coherence between the media and the government, investigation of the prosecution of violent events against journalists and the finalization of remaining cases of violence against journalists. He pointed that strengthening and revitalization of the journalists’ support fund was another important achievements of the joint committee of government and media society.
The Second Vice President stressed that the government is fully determined to support freedom of expression and considers it to be its most important responsibility. Speaking at a meeting of the Joint Committee on the Media and Government with the representatives of the international community on the security and impunity of journalists, he said that freedom of expression is one of the most important achievements of the government and citizens of Afghanistan. The meeting was attended by officials from the domestic media, the members of the Joint Media and Government Committee, the United Nations Representative for Afghanistan, the EU Representative, Representatives of the UNESCO Office, the British Ambassador, Ambassador of Germany, the Embassy of Sweden, Ambassador of Holland, Ambassador of Denmark and Ambassador of Spain.
The United Nations Representative, Tedamichi Yamamoto, as well as the European Union representative in Afghanistan announced that they will continue to support the freedom of speech and the media in Afghanistan and will work with the Afghan government.The Afghan government has recognized freedom of expression and media freedom as one of its most important accomplishments in more than a decade and a half. Afghanistan’s position in the world ranking of journalists without borders is better than the neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan. Though freedom of the media in Afghanistan is a new experience but Afghanistan has surpassed many countries in the area of freedom of expression from neighboring countries and regions, and the country’s media are also making it more professional.Although the interaction between the government and the media was not satisfactoryin the recent past.
In spite of some gains, the experience of media and freedom of expression has not been flawless;it was repeatedly criticized by government that the media that they do not reflect the facts; on the other hand, the government itself, which is an important source of news and inquiry, refrains from providing the necessary information to the media. An overview of the statistics of violence against journalists makes it clear that most of the violence has been imposed by government officials but this should be assessed from both sides. Means, from one side the government employees may have been involved in corruption or somethings illegally run in the offices, which, due to fear of disclosure, may not be ready to give the necessary information to the media.
But on the other side of the case, may be it is related to the function and impartiality of the media. In the sense that the media do not act in an impartial manner in the investigation or reflection of the issues distorting the atmosphere of freedom by biased political tendencies. The other part of the case may refer to the lack of professional journalists who go to government departments for information. Respecting the law and the media ethics and gaining the trust of the party for its impartial and fair reflection is something less taken serious by some journalists.
Anyway, it is highly important for media to have freely access to information so as to monitor and control over the state authorities elected by the society and to make a self-controlled society, which is the demand of democracy. The definition of a self-controlled society means that it itself shall make own decisions. And the society can do this in case it is informed in aggregate with the open exchange of opinions.  Mass media as an instrument for the exercising of freedom of speech and expression gains importance for a democratic society. Hence, Political pundits believe when the people are aware of the facts, the country will be controlled and calm. 
Overall, support of media is support freedom and democracy;democracy is meaningless without freedom of media and freedom of thoughts but there is a dire need to promote media skills as a safeguard against any destructive and divisive factors.It is also important to realize that today’s world is ruled by media monopolies; positively or negatively it can affect our thoughts, attitudes, society, families and future generation.So, it highly important to monitor the content of public accordance with national interest.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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