The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Threatening free press in Afghanistan

The Taliban militants on Monday issued a fresh threat to media outlets in Afghanistan. The militant group issued a statement demanding an immediate halt to airing of pro-government advertisements.
The statement further added that certain media outlets are publishing advertisements aimed at disrupting the insurgency of the group. The statement further added that the group sets a one-week deadline for the media outlets to halt publishing such advertisements.
Taliban also warned that the group media outlets airing pro-government ads would be deemed as ‘nests of intelligence agencies. The statement also added that such media outlets will not remain immune in the capital, other provinces and cities of the country.
Taliban released the latest threat amid growing violence against media outlets and journalists in Afghanistan. Dozens of media activists have lost their lives or have sustained injuries in militants’ attacks during the recent years.
The militants have staged a series of deadly attacks against the media activists and journalists in Kabul and other parts of the country.
Designating media organizations as legitimate military targets is indicating a shift in Taliban approach to the freedom of expressions and the activities of the free press in Afghanistan. Pursuing more aggressive militant campaigns on the ground, the militants aim to further boost the group’s propaganda machine along with its military offensive. However, the free and independent press in the country is viewed by the militants as the biggest hurdle against their war propagandas.
The Taliban have been pressurizing Afghan journalists to include the group’s media wing as the source of their reporting from of the situation and the casualties on the ground. This is while the Taliban media outlets are never reliable sources for news as they grossly exaggerate the events on the ground for Taliban victories. 
The Taliban and other like-minded groups should be taken accountable by the international community and the major world bodies such as the United Nations over their obligations to the safety and security of the media members. The United Nations should designate such attacks on media as war crimes. 
The Taliban must remain committed to safety of journalists providing news of the conflict across the country. Protecting media members is a basic obligation of all parties in the conflicts, and all sides including the militant groups must protect journalists. Most of the civilian casualties in the past eighteen years of the conflict have been attributed to the militant groups.
The Taliban must end deliberately targeting the civilian population including members of the media. The UN should remain engaged in talks with the Taliban and other militant groups over protection of the civilians. Targeting civilians and media members is a gross violation of the Taliban’s official policy as well as their war obligations. 
Civil and media organizations need to step up campaigns for safety and security of journalists and other media members along with more concerted efforts for promoting freedom of expression and continuing their tasks of delivering information to the people. Meanwhile these organizations should do more in reaching out to the international community and world bodies for safety and security of journalists in Afghanistan.

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.