Wednesday 19 August 2009

Afghan news agency rejects media blackout call

Pajhwok Afghan News agency has rejected a call by the Afghan Government for all domestic and foreign media to impose a news blackout on any violence during tomorrow's presidential election. It says "to conceal information from the people violates our very reason for existing" and claims the call for a media blackout by the Afghan National Security Council is an order rather than a request.
The agency says in a statement: "Pajhwok Afghan News rejects the order of the National Security Council, released by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which forbids coverage or prediction of violence during tomorrow's election.
"Such orders have no basis in the Afghan Constitution or the principles of democracy.
"For five years, Pajhwok's mission has been to serve the people of Afghanistan by providing factual, free and fair information. We are obligated to our fellow citizens to report the truth, so that they can participate actively in our democracy.
"We will continue to do so.
"Our policy is to report with care for accuracy, and not to inflame any tensions or fears by sensational reporting. We will follow these professional standards tomorrow and in the future.
"We hope that the election will be safe and transparent for all of Afghanistan. But to conceal information from the people violates our very reason for existing.
"Although the official English translation says that Afghan and foreign media "are requested to refrain from broadcasting any incidence of violence" we can see that in the Dari, the words have a different meaning.
"The Dari version makes clear that it is seriously forbidden to report and publish photographs on violence, and to predict that there will be attacks.
"Pajhwok editors understand that their role is not to predict. However, we feel a professional obligation to inform our audience about specific threats that are documented and credible.
"It is up to the people to decide how to act on this information."
The agency is on Twitter.

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