Afghanistan: Two radio stations closed amid financial crunch



Renowned radio stations of Afghanistan, Radio Paktia Ghag and Radio Maimana, were shut for an indefinite period of time due to a financial crunch. Radio Paktia Ghag broadcast for 11 years in the southeastern province of Paktia, while Radio Maimana broadcast for 10 years in the northern province of Faryab. The two radio stations halted operations last Wednesday, reported TOLOnews. "We used to have around 40 employees, men and women. They were working under the Paktia Ghag production," said Zabiullah Ayoubi, director of Paktia Ghag radio station. In another statement, Adibullah Sonmas, the director of the Maimana radio station expressed, "We didn't have the ability to extend our licence." The journalists called on media watchdogs and media-supporting organizations to help Afghan media outlets.

Apart from the closure of several media organizations, at least 50 journalists and media workers have been detained briefly or arrested by the police or Istikhbarat since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. These arrests, which are often accompanied by violence, have lasted from several hours to nearly a week. They usually occur when journalists are covering street demonstrations by women in the capital, Kabul, "The closing of media outlets creates problems for the people and journalists because when the media is closed, there will be no one to raise the voice of the people," quoted Farkhunda Mehbi, a journalist, reported TOLOnews. The media-supporting organizations called the closing of radio stations a tragedy and urged the Islamic Emirate and the international community to provide support for the Afghan media community. "We expect the Islamic Emirate to help the Afghan media by easing taxes and eliminating crimes against the Afghan media," said Hujatullah Mujahdidi, a member of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA). The Ministry of Information and Culture said the Islamic Emirate is committed to the media in a brief statement. "The Islamic Emirate, based on its capacity and by the law, is committed to helping the media," said Abdul Haq Humad, press director of the Ministry. Based on available figures, dozens of media outlets have stopped activities since the fall of the former government. At least 27 Afghan TV and radio broadcasters stopped operations since the Taliban takeover in mid-August, reported sources. Afghanistan is ranked 122nd out of 180 countries in the latest World Press Freedom Index which RSF issued in April 2021.