Afghan Journalists Demand Press Freedom Assurances in Kabul-Taliban Talks

▶️Nearly three months after a U.S.-Taliban exit deal was finalized in Doha, journalists and press freedom advocates on the ground in Afghanistan say they’ve largely been frozen out of a planned series of reconciliation talks between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and representatives of Afghan society. Analysts say their absence could imperil recent achievements for press freedoms after 19 years of war.

👉The national post-war reconciliation talks, which have no firm start date, are expected to build on a late-February U.S.-Taliban exit deal that was finalized in Doha, Qatar. According to that agreement, the United States would fully withdraw American troops within 14 months in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.

Najib Sharifi, of the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC), said clear definitions of press freedom in a post-war Afghanistan were never discussed.

“In these [Doha] sessions, protection of press freedom and freedom of expression had not been discussed as a major redline by the government negotiation team,” he told VOA’s Pashto Service.

“That’s why we are concerned.” AJSC, which has published a “road map” to safeguard press freedoms throughout the reconciliation process, also has criticized government officials for neglecting to demand press freedom guarantees from the Taliban, and for failing to include journalists in negotiations.