Taliban urges positive media representation amidst stricter control

Amidst increasing media and journalistic constraints in Afghanistan, Naeem Haqqani, head of the Taliban’s Media Center in Kabul, urged media outlets on Thursday to portray them positively to the international community.

During a visit to Baghlan Province, Haqqani, speaking to the Taliban-run Bakhtar News Agency, urged the media to highlight their favorable actions.

“The media must depict the government’s actions positively to the world, and authorities should provide accurate information to the media for public awareness,” Haqqani said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesperson, declared Nai — an organization supporting open media in Afghanistan operating from abroad — has no say in Afghan media affairs. This statement came in response to Nai’s report on Afghanistan’s media landscape.

Media support organizations argue that Afghan institutions have the right to function abroad, aiding domestic media efforts.

Following their return to power, the Taliban have tightly regulated media, imposing restrictions such as banning unmasked women’s images and music. Since the fall of the previous regime, 71 televisions, 147 radios, 36 newspapers and magazines, and 10 online media have been shut down.

Hamid Obidi, head of the Afghanistan Journalists Support Organization (AJSO), stressed that freedom of expression transcends geography, affirming Afghan institutions’ right to support media work from overseas.

“The issue of freedom of expression is not a geographical one. Institutions have the right to raise their voices to support freedom of expression and journalists worldwide, and Afghan institutions have the right to support media work inside Afghanistan and freedom of expression outside the geography of Afghanistan,” he added.

Hashmatullah Wujdani, a member of the Federation of Afghan Journalists in Pakistan, reported journalists facing arrest, torture, and imprisonment for critical reporting. The Taliban have also targeted journalists collaborating with foreign media.

Over the past two years, the Taliban have persecuted, detained, and tortured journalists working with international outlets.

The head of the United Nations Political Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recently described the state of free speech in Afghanistan as dire in a report to the Security Council.