The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed concern over government decisions in both Pakistan and Afghanistan which will potentially jeopardise advancements made towards free and democratic media in these countries.
Afghan media laws are set to be reviewed over the next month, which, according to reported statements by parliamentarians, will result in firmer controls over the content of television programmes.
“The laws adopted in 2004 were a positive step towards freedom of speech and expression in Afghanistan, it would be disappointing if these proposed changes undo all the hard work,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
According to reports, a growing number of Islamist government officials are concerned by both the number of women portrayed on TV and by their lack of clothing, which they consider to be disrespectful to Islamic values.
“If media laws are to be revised, it should be done to expand freedom of expression, not contract it,” Warren said.
The proposed changes come just a day after the Pakistan government placed a ban on the broadcasting of several Afghan television channels.
According to reports from the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA), Pakistan has banned Ariana, Tolo, Lemar, Shamshad, Aina and Afghanistan National stations which were previously available via cable network.
“Bans such as these are detrimental to the free-flow of information between nations and can potentially destabilise relations in what is a very fragile region,” Warren said.
It remains unclear at this stage as to what triggered the Pakistan government to enforce the ban.
“The IFJ supports the AIJA in its request for the bans to be lifted, and calls on the Pakistan government to work towards building a free and safe press for its journalists.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries