Concerns over Iran’s influence in Afghan media agencies
By Jawed Rostapoor - Wed Jan 09 2013, 9:38 am
According to local authorities in western Herat province of Afghanistan, a number of the Iranian journalism faculty teachers have started directed contacts with the local media agencies in this province without coordinating with the local government.
Officials in NAI, which supports free media in Afghanistan are saying that the two neighboring countries, Pakistan and Iran are struggling to increase their presence and influence in Afghanistan media as 2014 is getting closer since they are looking to use media in a bid to spark tribal and religious issues.
Sediqullah Tawhidi head of the media watch in NAI agency told Khaama Press, “All the activities from the neighboring countries of Afghanistan specifically the Islamic Republic of Iran without coordination with the government and non-government organizations is a major concern since there is no free media in Iran and the Iranians are looking to create their influence inside the Afghanistan media through such training programs. They want to implement their strategies using the Afghan medias and are struggling to spark anti-western and foreign troops movements in Afghanistan.”
Mr. Tawhidi urged the Afghan foreign ministry and Afghan information and culture ministry to take immediate actions against the issue.
The issue is not something new as the Afghanistan media has been supported from the unknown countries in the past as well which created tensions among the media officials in the country.
Afghan intelligence officials earlier also said that a number of the media agencies are being supported by Iran in capital Kabul but the comments by Afghanistan National Directorate of Security (NDS) spokesman, which was widely broadcasted by local and foreign media agencies was harshly criticized.
The issue of Iran’s support towards the local medias in Afghanistan was widely criticized in political sessions and by media analysts who were saying that the pro-Iranian media agencies are broadcasting anti-NATO troops campaigns and in a number of cases the local medias have followed Iranian medias to broadcast anti-US articles and analysis.
In the meantime media activists and a number of the media agencies in western Herat province are concerned regarding the meeting of the chief of the Mashad journalism university with the local medias in this province and are saying that they are not confident regarding honest cooperation of Iran to improve media in Afghanistan.
One of the major issue in western Herat province of Afghanistan is the religious issue and Islamic Republic of Iran has reportedly been involved behind the issues in the past.
There also reports that the Iranian clerics who are attending religious sessions in Herat province are encouraging the local clerics and residents of Herat province against the foreign troops and are also providing negative speech against the foreign non-governmental organizations and are accusing them of preaching other religions in this province.
Also the Iranian Akhunds — clerics have reportedly organized shor seminars for the local clerics in Herat province which sparked concerns by civil society activists who are were saying that the religious clerics who attended the seminars were providing anti-foreign troops speechs during Friday prayers. In a number of cases the clerics have reportedly said that the foreign troops have occupied Afghanistan, such comments which are normally seen in Iranian medias and the Iranian president Mahmood Ahmadi Nezhad is continuously use the same phrases during his speeches.
But the major concern is regarding the negative impact of Iran’s support towards the local medias in western Herat province of Afghanistan.
Mr. Jahan Shahi who has reportedly met with the local media officials in Herat province has said that the media agencies lacks professionalism and professional expertise. He has also said that the Afghan medias has been involved in projects during the past 10 years and therefore Afghan medias need professional trainings and he vowed Iran’s commitment in this regard.
In the meantime Mr. Tawhidi criticize the information and culture ministry officials for being reckless in this regard and also accuse certain individuals inside the government who are supporting the national benefits of the neighboring countries in Afghanistan.
Khalil Amiree director of the local Faryad Radio and member of the NAI — supporting the local media has also said that the officials of Mashad jounalism university during their meeting with the local medias and have also vowed financial support the local medias in Afghanistan.
A number of the reporters and media agencies in Herat province are concerned regarding the media agencies who are having economic issues and will become united with Iran that will have a dangerous outcome for the local medias in this province.
Economical issues and lack of the government and international community support towards the local medias in Afghanistan is said to be the main reason which has prevented growth of the media in the country.
There are also concerns that the local medias will join Iran due to economic problems as the international aid to Afghanistan is due to dramatically reduce by 2014.