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ED: Freedom of expression under attack

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Freedom of expression is the basic right of every Afghan to articulate their opinions, ideas and views without fear of government or terrorists. Under the article 19th of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression had been recognized as the human right for all around the globe. The said article states, “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference and everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of the medium used.” Freedom of speech is being considered to be a fundamental in a democracy, while media family plays role of fourth pillar of a state. After the ouster of Taliban regime in 2001, Afghanistan gained achievements in every walk life. One of that was freedom of expression. Afghanistan has never before had more news outlets with a number of print and electronic media organizations, including some news agencies. All it was meant to put weight behind the suppressed voices of Afghan masses who suffered greater during the past more than three decades of war and still, being a front line state, rendering highest number of sacrifices in the ongoing war on terror. During Taliban regime, there was only one radio station called Voice of Sharia that broadcasted propaganda of Taliban and Talibanization. However, the newly democratic government of former President Hamid Karzai exercised pro-media policy and provided opportunity to his war-hit people to practice their freedom of speech by allowing establishment of numerous media outlets. The incumbent government has also termed free media as one of the country’s biggest achievement and always showed strong commitment to its preservation and to nurture it further. At the same time, we have been witnessed heart-wrenching violence against journalists and media organizations. The militants of Islamic State which is also known as Daesh terrorist group were stormed to Shamshad TV Station on Tuesday in Kabul which resulted in killing of two security guards and 20 others, comprising journalists wounded. President Ashraf Ghani and the National Security Adviser Haneef Atmar have strongly condemned this cowardly act of terrorism and termed it an inhuman and atrocious act contrary to all Islamic and human values and norms. Atmar in a tweeted message said, “Terrorists want to block voice and freedom of expression of Afghan people which we gained after sacrifices during the last decades.” Especially, thumb up to our brave and patriotic defense and security forces that reached on time and saved human lives by killing the terrorists. Prior to this, Afghan journalists have been faced violence, threats and intimidation to prevent them from their sacred job. The Afghan Journalist’s Safety Committee, an independent watchdog reported in July that Taliban and Islamic State militants were responsible for most of the direct and indirect attacks on media workers in the country. At least 1146 violent incidents have been reported against media family. Militants carried out attacks on media men and women from Tolo TV, Aryana TV, 1TV and to RTA. However, media family in the country stayed like rock. It’s a sacred fact that terrorist and their supporters couldn’t reach their unpopular goals by attacking media outlets in the country. The government should take safety measures for journalists and media organization to keep up the country’s journey towards democracy, development and modernization. Instead of defensive policy, the ANDSF and our international partners must hit terrorists in their havens, if it entails crossing the Durand Line. Because, durable peace and stability in the region and around the globe couldn’t be prevailed, as long as terrorists enjoy safe sanctuaries and state support outside of Afghanistan. The Tuesday’s attack on Shamshad TV conducted by the same terrorists that feeding by our neighbor. Journalism is not a crime, journalists consider as ears and eyes of a society. Suppose, if there were no media, how could the government and others approach the masses. Respecting to media family at real scene is to pay a respect to the entire nation, to which we fight and work hard.