Afghanistan blocks all Pakistani papers

Afghanistan blocks all Pakistani papers

Afghanistan blocks all Pakistani papers

Former Taliban fighters show their weapons as they join Afghan forces in this photo. Pakistani papers are banned in Afghanistan for publishing Taliban leaders’ speeches. AFP photo

Afghanistan banned all Pakistani newspapers, accusing the publications of supporting the Taliban and seeking to undermine the government, an official said Sept. 22, in a move likely to worsen already tense cross-border ties.

“The Afghan government decided to ban all Pakistani newspapers in Afghanistan,” government spokesman Sayed Ihsanuddin Taheri said.

The papers will be blocked at their entry points in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Nuristan which border Pakistan. Afghanistan border police have already started collecting all Pakistani newspapers from shops and newspaper stands in Nangarhar province.

Pakistani newspapers are usually filled with statements that the Afghan government does not properly represent its people and that its NATO-led allies are “occupying” the country, rather than offering security support, Taheri said.

“In recent months Pakistani newspapers have started an anti-Afghan government campaign, especially in the eastern provinces.”

“The papers print Taliban propaganda, question the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan,” he added. An interior ministry statement said the papers also “target Afghan forces” in their articles.

Ministerial decree

Some papers have also published speeches by Taliban insurgency leaders, he added, at a time when the government is trying to lure the Taliban into nascent peace talks aimed at ending the 11-year Afghan war. “We totally reject these statements and the ban is to show them this,” said Taheri, adding the nation-wide ban could only be reversed by a ministerial decree.

Ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been strained by months of cross-border shelling which officials in Kabul have blamed on Pakistan’s military. Islamabad accuses Afghanistan of failing to stop anti-government militants operating from mountain havens on Kabul’s side of the border.