Journalists express concern over halt in Nai operations in Afghanistan

Journalists in Afghanistan are worried about the impact on freedom of expression following the suspension of Nai, an organization advocating for open media in the country.

Nai, which promotes media freedom in Afghanistan, announced its temporary suspension on Thursday, Jan. 25. The organization’s head, Mujeeb Khalwatgar, confirmed the halt in operations. Khalwatgar, currently residing outside Afghanistan, plans to provide reasons for the suspension at a later date.

The suspension of media support organizations like Nai is seen as a significant setback for press freedom in Afghanistan. Journalists fear that this will erode the foundation of free expression in the nation.

Rafiullah Nekzad, a journalist, expressed deep concern about the situation. “The closure of media support institutions will undeniably damage journalists’ morale in Afghanistan. It portends a grim future for media and journalistic freedom in the country,” Nekzad said.

According to Reporters Without Borders, more than 540 media outlets, including 80 television channels, 137 radio stations, and 13 news agencies, have ceased operations in the over two years since the Taliban regained power.

Journalists report restricted access to information and increased censorship under Taliban rule. “We face not only limited information access and censorship but also job losses among journalists. Over half of Afghanistan’s broadcast media have shut down due to mounting pressures,” said Basir Ahmad Danishyar, a journalist.

The International Federation of Journalists noted in a recent report that three journalists were arrested and subsequently released in Kabul by the Taliban since the start of this year.

Founded in 2004, Nai has been a pivotal defender of media rights in Afghanistan, regularly reporting on journalism and media organizations’ status. In the past two years, Nai has reported on Taliban detentions of journalists, referring to Taliban officials as “responsible” while refraining from direct public criticism.