KANDAHAR: A high-profile Afghan television journalist was shot dead in Kandahar city on Thursday, officials said, a day after the Taliban warned the media against “biased reporting”.

Newat Rawan was “assassinated by unknown gunmen”, Kandahar city police spokesman Jamal Nasir Barekzai said.

He was a popular talk show host with the country’s leading broadcaster, Tolo News, before joining the ministry of finance last month as a communications specialist.

“Heartbreaking to hear that a friend and former colleague Nemat Rawan was shot dead in Kandahar city today,” Lotfullah Najafizada, head of Tolo News, posted on Twitter.

The Taliban, blamed for a wave of assassinations of journalists in recent months, denied they were behind his murder.

“The assassination of Nemat Rawan... is not linked to the Islamic Emirate,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said on Twitter, referring to the group by its name from their rule in the 1990s.

On Wednesday, however, a Taliban spokesman warned that media workers who carry out “biased reporting” would be “held responsible”. Rawan, in his 20s, was married and had one three-year-old son.

President Ashraf Ghani said Rawan’s murder was a “terrorist attack” by the Taliban.

“The terrorists will not be able to silence freedom of expression and weaken our countrymen’s belief in a bright future,” he said in a statement.

Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the country’s peace council, condemned the Taliban’s threat against the media and “any attempts to silence Afghan journalists”.

Members of Afghanistan’s educated class — including journalists, activists and judges — have for months been the target of bombings and shootings, forcing many to go into hiding or leave the country.

The killings have escalated since peace talks began last year between the Afghan government and the Taliban, sparking fears that the insurgents are eliminating perceived opponents as negotiations stall.

At least 11 Afghan journalists were killed in 2020, with four more reportedly murdered this year, according to a recent toll from Amnesty International.

In early March, three female media workers were gunned down in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

Around 1,000 Afghan media workers have left their jobs in the past six months, an Afghan journalists’ safety committee said recently.

Afghanistan has long been ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2021

Opinion

The curse of irrelevance
24 Jul 2021

The curse of irrelevance

Fear, in essence, is a powerful de-motivator for those who believe their success lies in lazy public validation...
Good & bad Muslims
Updated 24 Jul 2021

Good & bad Muslims

It is essential to interrogate the wider epidemic of violence.
The Afghan stalemate
Updated 21 Jul 2021

The Afghan stalemate

The Taliban cannot think of ruling Afghanistan without international legitimacy.

Editorial

Cyberattack on rights
Updated 24 Jul 2021

Cyberattack on rights

A COLLABORATIVE investigation into a data leak of software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group has ...
24 Jul 2021

Sleeper cells

THERE was a time not too long ago when militant groups had unleashed a reign of terror in Pakistan, resulting in...
24 Jul 2021

Prisoners’ return

THE families of 62 Pakistani prisoners who had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia had reason to rejoice this Eid as...
India’s admission
Updated 21 Jul 2021

India’s admission

It was no secret that India had been manoeuvring behind the scenes to ensure that Pakistan remained on the grey list.
EU headscarf ban
Updated 23 Jul 2021

EU headscarf ban

Moves by the EU to curtail the religious freedoms of Muslims and others in the bloc need to be reviewed.
Disposal of offal
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Disposal of offal

The least people can do is to make an effort and dump entrails in designated areas.