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Afghanistan bans newspapers from Pakistan due to propaganda concerns

The Afghan Interior Ministry [official website, in Persian] on Saturday ordered a ban on all Pakistani newspapers from entering Afghanistan because, they claim, the papers are a source of propaganda on the part of the Taliban. The papers are to be barred from entry [Reuters report] at the popular border crossings of Nangarhar, Kunar and Nuristan. The new order gives police the power to confiscate all Pakistani newspapers. Afghan officials claim that newspapers are not based on facts and only put forth Taliban propaganda. Pakistan denies these claims and officials point out the widespread readership some Pakistani newspapers have in Afghanistan.

In July, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] expressed concern about a proposed media law in Afghanistan that would increase government authority to regulate the press. According to HRW, the new law would place greater oversight authority in the director of the High Media Council, which would also be able to influence the budgets and composition of other media-related bodies. The new law would also regulate things such as word choice in news reporting and broadcasting of foreign programs. The press has come under attack in other places around the world recently. A media rights group called attention [JURIST report] to a new Ukrainian libel law last week.

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