KARACHI: Dozens of Afghan journalists who fled their country last year after the Taliban took over Kabul face an uncertain future in Pakistan as they anxiously await visa renewals to stay in the country and continue their struggle to repatriate to European countries or the United States. Journalists who fled Afghanistan mainly to Islamabad, Karachi, Quetta complain that they receive no help, even from international organizations and NGOs.
Malik Mohammad Afzala civil servant who works for the Pakistani Ministry of Interior visa office said the visas could be extended this week but had to get approval from the country’s intelligence agencies.
“The Pakistani Ministry of Interior has authorized the issuance of special visas for all media personnel who wish to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover, fearing repercussions on their reporting and work,” said Nasrin Shirazad, who worked for Ariana News in Kabul.
The mother-of-three fled via the eastern province of Nangarhar immediately after the Taliban took over in August 2021 and received a letter on her doorstep threatening dire consequences for her “sinful” and “unfaithful” job.
The Taliban denied publishing such a letter and called it “false”.
The presenter and broadcaster now says NGOs and other Western countries and organizations she had approached about relocating to another country say there is no evidence she is under threat in Afghanistan.
But Shirzad said her work as a journalist has earned her and her family many such threats over the years.
“It was a big relief for my family when we finally got a visa to evacuate to Pakistan in February, but now the visa has expired.”
Other Afghan journalists are also awaiting visa extensions from the Pakistani government and, for now, their owners have told them to leave their local or they will be expelled.
“Without a valid visa, I cannot rent any accommodation in Pakistan, nor can I receive financial assistance from any NGO or from relatives, friends in Afghanistan,” said Abdullah Hameem, a journalist at the main Afghan television channel. Tolo TV said.
Currently, there are believed to be around 200 fugitive Afghan journalists and they all communicate through a WhatsApp group.
Hameem said many journalists who worked full-time in Afghanistan’s most progressive landscape for more than a decade before the Taliban took power fled to Pakistan or other neighboring countries for fear of reprisals. for their work.
Many of these journalists are former anchors and presenters like Sodaba Nasiry, 26, who worked for the former Afghan parliament’s television station and left Kabul for Pakistan the day the Taliban stormed Kabul.
She said her visa expired this month, leaving her unable to rent a room legally. For now, she lives with an Afghan widow in Islamabad.
Nasiry is currently undergoing treatment for depression and is facing serious financial problems which have also prevented him from undergoing proper medical treatment.
She declared all her emails and applications to the International Federation of Journalists, Reporters Without limitsthe Committee to Protect Journalists and the embassies of Germany, France, Italy and Canada gave no positive response to requests for assistance.
A report released last month by media watchdogs confirms that Afghanistan has lost almost 40% of its media and just under 60% of its journalists since the Taliban took over.
There were 2,756 female journalists and media workers working in Afghanistan before the Taliban took over, now only 656 are still working under restrictions.
Some Afghan journalists who fled to Pakistan even paid bribes in US dollars to private agents or intermediaries to obtain new documents or visa extensions.
“The emotional, legal and financial pressures are getting too much for us now,” said another reporter.



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