Pakistan & Others Urged To Solve Afghan Journalists Humanitarian Issues

Press Release

ISLAMABAD, 29 April 2024: Pakistani media support groups endorsed Monday the “Islamabad Declaration” passed unanimously at “Dialogue on Assisting Afghan Media Practitioners in Pakistan” calling on all stakeholders to join hands for collective actions to pull the refugee journalists out of current humanitarian challenges while waiting for resettlements in third countries.

“All stakeholders will support these journalists in short, medium and long-term policies about their legal stay in Pakistan, resettlement in third countries and respect to their fundamental human rights,” one of the demands made through the “Islamabad Declaration” read at “Dialogue on Assisting Afghan Journalists in Pakistan,” according to a press release issued here.

Media watchdog Freedom Network-hosted dialogue was participated by support groups such as Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ), National Press Club, Islamabad, Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ), Peshawar Press Club besides International Media Support (IMS), Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Women Journalists Association (WJA) of Pakistan.

“All stakeholders will, under international humanitarian laws, conventions and obligations, help the stranded Afghan journalists in Pakistan any required assistance as long as they need the assistance and prioritize support for Afghan women journalists among those exiled,” other demands raised in the declaration.

Freedom Network Executive Director Iqbal Khattak while speaking on the occasion thanked various stakeholders including the government of Pakistan, the EU, the UN, the ambassador of France, and the media bodies of Pakistan for extending assurances for the resolution of the humanitarian problems of the dozens of exiled Afghan journalists in Pakistan.    

Freedom Network launched a pilot six-month advocacy campaign for the exiled Afghan journalists to connect them with Pakistani policy-makers, international community through its embassies in Islamabad and the UN systems.  

In a special video message, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Advocacy and Assistance Director Antoine Bernard urged the stakeholders to urgently take steps for resolution of challenges the exiled journalists from Afghanistan faced in Pakistan.

“We need the Pakistan government, (western and and non-western) embassies and the UN system to join hands to support these Afghan journalists as we believe unless these key stakeholders join hands Afghan journalists’ issues and challenges will remain unsolved,” he spoke in his video message. 

Afghan exiled journalist Sher Shah Hamdard representing “Pak-Afghan Journalists Solidarity Network” emphasised the need for taking his fellow colleagues’s issues and problems  through humanitarian lenses.

“We understand our problems require a multilateral approach. Pakistan may play its role to continue issuing visas but the international community has a role also to play. We acknowledge the fact that both Pakistan and the international community have been quite generous in recent past assisting us with visa to travel to Pakistan with legal documents and forward movement beyond Pakistan,” he said.

Hundreds of Afghan journalists left Afghanistan after 15 August 2021 collapse of President Ashraf Ghani’s government in the face of Taliban’s advance towards Kabul to take shelter in Pakistan before some of them were resettled in European and non-European countries.

Around 200 journalists are still waiting for their visa cases at a number of embassies in Islamabad. Humanitarian visas are being issued but their pace is very slow. The biggest challenge these refugee journalists are facing is getting or renewing Pakistani visas.

Caption: Freedom Network Executive Director Iqbal Khattak (L) addresses “Pak-Afghan Journalists Solidarity Network” meeting in Islamabad on 29 April 2024.

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