Afghan Media Going Through Tough Times

Khushnood Nabizada in US military base

Afghan society in the last two decades progressed in almost all walks of life but one of the biggest achievements happened in the field of the press. Afghanistan saw the emergence of the professional and independent media sector but unfortunately recently Afghan press is going through a hard time. To discuss this, I interviewed Mr. Khushnood Nabizada founder of Khaama Press (KP) largest online service for Afghanistan which he started in October 2010. KP is considered as one of the most authentic sources of information in regard to Afghanistan and is often quoted by reputed international journals. Khushnood Nabizada survived an assassination attempt on his life in February this year when his armored vehicle was targeted in an IED blast in Kabul. Mr. Nabizada is currently in the United States living in exile at a US military base in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

Question– Mr. Nabizada in your opinion currently what are the main issues faced by Afghan media outlets?

Nabizada: The Media agencies and news outlets in Afghanistan are facing a challenging situation since the fall of Dr. Ghani’s government. Over 150 outlets have already shut down due to a shortage of operating funds and or not being allowed to operate. Dozens of journalists have been detained and tortured since August 15, 2021.

 The independent media agencies that used to collect operating funds from the advertisements, subscriptions, news selling, by providing marketing services and consultancy to businesses and organizations are more likely to collapse. The private sector is dying as the country’s economy is being fallen.

Question– One of the big achievements of Afghan civil society in the last two decades has been the emergence of freedom of speech. How do you see it now?

Nabizada: Freedom of speech and many other democratic values are at high risk in Afghanistan as of now. Access to information is limited to almost none. Journalists are not allowed to cover events nor to report regarding the current situation in society. Few journalists and media outlets are still able to survive in the capital Kabul. But there is no reporting happening from the provincial cities, districts, and rural areas.

 As a member of the journalism community, I am very much concerned about the future of the press and freedom of speech in Afghanistan.

Question– How the international community can play its part in safeguarding Afghan media?

Nabizada: The international media support organizations shall not leave the Afghan media alone in this critical time. The empowerment of media in Afghanistan is in fact the shared achievement of the global community and international organizations. Losing these achievements will not only be a loss to Afghanistan, but to all those countries that claim to support democracy and freedom.

Question– Khaama Press is the largest online news service for Afghanistan started in 2010 by you. How do you see the future of KP?

Nabizada: Khaama Press, an 11-year-old news agency is also passing through a tough time and it has hardly managed to keep its services live since the Taliban’s coming to power on August 15th till date. All our funding sources are stopped and our business contracts are canceled. Many of our journalists, experts, and professional staff have already left the job and many of them have fled out from the country for seeking asylum in Europe, US, or Canada.

 As I expressed my concerns earlier, if the situation does not change, Khaama Press may collapse. Also, an organization that has been established and incorporated with the investment of a huge sum of dollars, time, and efforts of a committed and professional team of journalists and editors. Is fighting for its survival.

 I am committed to trying my best to find a solution to avoid this media outlet’s collapse. I am looking for opportunities of stationing Khaama Press outside Afghanistan.

Question– Is KP facing any issues with its operations?

Nabizada: Yes, As of now we are facing many issues like- financial crisis, lack of technical expertise and professional journalists on the ground, no access to information. We are reporting with very limited resources. Many of our journalists cannot reflect what is actually happening on the ground as there is no law and competent authority to support them.

Question– In today’s tough times how Afghan media can maintain their independence?

Nabizada: It is hard and challenging for any independent media in Afghanistan to continue its operations independently from inside the country. The only way I foresee for them is to move the head offices, the editorial and operational units to other countries and only keep a team of reporters inside Afghanistan.

About the Author
Manish Rai is a columnist for the Middle East and Af-Pak region; Editor of a geo-political news agency Views Around (VA)
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