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Afghanistan's mainstream media shaken by Taliban takeover
Kabul: The mainstream media in Afghanistan that had just started to get on its feet was shaken by the disruptions of 2021 - the takeover of the war-ravaged country by the Taliban.
A survey conducted by Reporters Without Borders and the Afghan Independent Journalist Association in December 2021 reported the closure of more than 200 media outlets; rendering about 6,400 journalists jobless after the regime change, reported Afghan Diaspora Network. The transfer of power from a west-supported government to the Taliban saw many changes in the way institutions were working for the past twenty years.
Not accustomed to working within the framework of the Taliban regime, several media personalities moved to neighbouring or western countries, reported Afghan Diaspora Network.
Though it remains to be seen what the future holds for popular media in the country, the upheaval has surely distressed it in the short term.
While most of the media is attempting to adapt to the new environment, the turbulent times have come as an opportunity for Pakistan, reported Afghan Diaspora Network.
Drawing flak from all around for fomenting trouble and interfering in the governance of Afghanistan, Islamabad has now resorted to manipulating Afghan media to improve its public image, reported Afghan Diaspora Network.
According to some Afghan journalists, the efforts are part of a well-coordinated strategy focused on exploiting the media vacuum in the country to implant favourable coverage of Pakistan.
Though common Afghan journalists working on the ground are not aware of the full plan, they suspect it to be backed by Pakistani agencies. Afghan journalists facing distress are being roped in for positive coverage about Pakistan and its possible role in rebuilding Afghanistan reported Afghan Diaspora Network.
Fully funded training courses are being offered to Afghan media persons with a special focus on female journalists. Some local media houses are said to have been contacted with offers of monetary assistance.
A few of them facing financial duress are vulnerable to this strategy. Pakistani private media companies are also being encouraged to set up their outlets in Kabul to counter any negative perception about the Pakistani government/Army.
Separately, Islamabad is stepping up engagement with local Afghan NGOs/civil society and efforts are being made to rope in some foreign media houses, and western outlets focused on Af-Pak region are being approached for establishing offices in Islamabad for better coordination.
However, its intention of gaining a strategic foothold artificially through media may not be effective given the public distrust of it. With the emergence of social media, the public consumption of news and narrative has witnessed a definitive shift over the past few years, reported Afghan Diaspora Network. (ANI)