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    Maltreatment of reporters widely condemned

    KABUL (PAN): Journalist bodies across the country on Sunday lashed out at intelligence personnel for beating media representatives in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province.

    A number of reporters, who were physically assaulted by intelligence operatives after a car suicide bombing on Sunday, staged a protest, giving the authorities 24 hours to bring the assailants to justice.

    The National Directorate of Security (NDS) officials thrashed and used abusive language against reporters with different media outlets, as they arrived at the blast site for coverage.

    Pajhwok Afghan News’ cameraman and reporters of Aryana, Hewad and Zhwandoon TV channels, as well as an AFP stinger were hit with Kalashnikov butts. The Zhwandoon TV channel reporter was thrice beaten as he tried to video-tape the scene.

    They asked the government to bring the officials involved to trial; otherwise they would boycott covering official activities. They also warned of approaching the Presidential Palace if their demand was not met.

    Writers and Journalists Union head in the east, Ustad Lal Pacha, strongly condemned the incident and asked the government to take stern action against the NDS officials as soon as possible. "It is not for the first time that journalists are insulted and abused; it has become a matter of routine," Pacha remarked.

    The Afghanistan National Journalist Union denounced the Ministry of Information for failing to take action over media people’s maltreatment at the hands of government officials. In a statement, the union urged security organs to direct their staff to refrain from aggression.

    Zabihullah Ihsas, head of the journalists association in the northern zone, said press representatives were being subjected to misbehavior as result of government’s inaction. He added the government’s commitment to the freedom of expression sounded hollow.

    The Kandahar Press Club lampooned President Karzai’s remarks that touted press freedom a huge achievement made over the past decade. The statement was in conflict with what happened in Jalalabad today, it said.

    The journalists’ body hoped the authorities would take effective measures to prevent such sordid incidents in future.  It called for deterrent punishment to the NDS agents involved in thrashing the reporters. 

    Similarly, the Media Centre in Khost, Nangarhar-based Media Tech and Independent Journalists Society in Helmand also denounced the incident as an attack on the press. They slammed the action as an attempt at concealing the facts from the media.