Controversial owner of TV channel lashes out at Taliban for trying to seize his land

Ismail Yun, a university lecturer and owner of Zhwandoon TV in Kabul, said at a press conference in Kabul on Monday that the Taliban has restricted his broadcasts to cultural programs only and is also trying to seize the land his network occupies and turn the building into a madrassa.

Yun, who recently gave the Taliban a “score of 95 out of 100”, appears to have had a change of heart and said the country is now being ruled by people who have lived in Pakistan for years.

He said the Taliban is pro-Pakistan and that this was not in the interests of the country.

Yun said the land on which the TV station’s building stands was given to the company by the previous government.

He warned the Taliban that they cannot establish Akora Khattak or Haqqaniya schools in the area. Akora Khattak and Haqqani are two well-known madrassas in Pakistan that have hosted many Taliban members over the years.

“Those who have lived in Pakistan and have spent six to 10 years there due to various reasons and now are rulers here is not in the country’s favor. They’re in contact with those (in Pakistan), their WhatsApp numbers are Pakistani numbers and they’re disturbing the people. But you cannot build Akora (Khattak) or Haqqaniya madrassas here with your will,” Yun said.

“You have restricted me to only cultural activities,” he said, referring to the Taliban.

Yun said that those who have blown up bridges and electricity pylons for years are now ministers in the Taliban cabinet, but people who have served the nation are accused of treason.

“The one who has destroyed a bridge has become the public works minister, those who have destroyed a power pylon have become telecommunications minister … but those who have served the country have been accused of treason,” he said.

In recent weeks, Yun drew a sharp reaction for his pro-Taliban comments on social media and two weeks ago, in a speech at a ceremony organized by the Taliban with a number of Afghan intellectuals, he said he would give the Taliban a score of 95 out of 100.

“There is one rule from Spin Boldak to Badakhshan, and people can travel freely and safely, and from this perspective, the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) can be given 95 marks,” Yun said last month.

On Monday however, Yun appeared to have done an about-turn.

In 2010, Yun founded Zhwandoon TV and the company’s building was constructed on nearly one hectare of land rented to the media outlet by former president Hamid Karzai’s government.

Yun is a professor at the Faculty of Pashto Literature at Kabul University and his ethnocentric views have always been controversial.