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Free Media; important element of a democratic society

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Free Media; important element of a democratic society
 After collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001, Afghanistan has got eye-catching achievements in every front, and one of it was freedom of expression. The country has never had more news outlets comparing today as there are hundreds of print media, tens of televisions, hundreds of radio stations and some news agencies.Nowadays online media also plays key role in delivering information to the people.
The main goal behind their creation is to put lend behind depress voices of Afghan masses who have passed four decades of war that still bearing the brunt of casualties. Media in Afghanistan has grown rapidly during these years. During Taliban time, there was one radio station called Vice of Sharia, it was used to broadcast propaganda of the Taliban insurgents only. But, when Taliban regime toppled down, the newly democratic government under administrative of ex-president Hamid Karzai, has provided opportunity for the war-hit Afghans to practice their freedom of speech by establishing numerous media outlets.
Each year, World Press Freedom Day is observed to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluate press freedom around the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence, and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives on duty.   This year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day is ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’, and will cover issues of media and the transparency of the political process, the independence and media literacy of the judicial system, and the accountability of state institutions towards the public.
After the establishment of the National Unity Government, President Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah have made tremendous efforts to remove barriers and restrictions facing Afghan journalists and has taken major steps to support and protect open media in Afghanistan.  The government of national unity has also signed and put into action the Access to Information Law, approved the regulation to establish private media, ordered to develop the regulation on safety and security of Afghan journalists and private media, and ordered the investigation of cases of murder and mistreatment of Afghan journalists. The government has also codified many other laws to ease media activities in the country.
Meanwhile, in 2018 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF), Afghanistan ranked 118th out of 180 countries in the latest index. In the last year’s index, it was placed at 120th. In a statement, RSF said that violence was worrying in Afghanistan where 18 journalists and media workers were killed in 2017. But it said that Afghanistan rose two places in the index due to improvement in the legal environment with the creation of coordinating committees for the safety of journalists and media.
Despite growth of the free media in Afghanistan, journalists are still vulnerable to threats, intimidation, and violence, particularly in relation to reporting on sensitive issues, including corruption, land grabbing, violence against women, and human rights abuses.
On Monday morning, right two days ago, nine journalists were deliberately targeted by the so-called IS militants while they were in the site to cover the news of an earlier explosion happened in the area. Meanwhile other journalists were also martyred at the same day in Khost province by unknown gunmen.
But despite to aforesaid challenges, open media is an important element of a democratic society and plays a vital role to inform citizens about the government goals on sustainable development and to enable the public to hold their leaders at national and provincial levels accountable for fulfilling the pledges they have made and what they are required to perform as per their jobs and national constitution.
Afghan government has spared no efforts to pave way for activities of free and independent media in Afghanistan. But since,the enemies of Afghan people have not been victorious in face-to-face war against the Afghan defense and national security forces, now they want to make silent the media to force the government towards dictatorship. Taking the ground reality into view, the government, people and the international organizations support open media and working for freedom of expression and media family and prosecute those behind martyring of the media workers.