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TOLOnews journalist, who came into limelight after her interview with Taliban leader, flees Afghanistan

Beheshta Arghand's interview came at a time when Afghans were fleeing the country fearing the Taliban's repressive policies, which were seen during its 1996-2001 rule. 

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
August 31, 2021 9:11:59 pm
Screenshot of Beheshta Arghand's interview with a senior Taliban representative. (Youtube/TOLONews)

A female journalist from Afghanistan Beheshta Arghand, who came into the limelight following her interview with a senior Taliban leader for TOLOnews, has fled the country, according to reports.

Days after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in the wake of the withdrawal of US troops from the country, Arghand interviewed the leader on August 17. Arghand told The New York Times that she was briefed by her producers to elicit information without challenging the guest. However, in the interview, she questioned him about door-to-door searches in Kabul and the group’s plans for the future.

Her work made headlines all over the world and was hailed by Saad Mohseni, the chief executive of Moby Group, which owns TOLOnews.

Two days later, 24-year-old Arghand interviewed Nobel laureate and activist Malala Yousafzai, who had survived a Taliban assassination attempt.

The woman, who fled Afghanistan on Tuesday owing to the fear of Taliban, told CNN that she had worked at TOLOnews for “one month and 20 days”.

“Almost all our well-known reporters and journalists have left. We have been working like crazy to replace them with new people,” Mohseni was quoted as saying by CNN.

Arghand’s interview came at a time when Afghans were fleeing the country fearing the Taliban’s repressive policies, which were seen during its 1996-2001 rule.

After fleeing Afghanistan, she along with her parents and sibling found refuge in Qatar. In an interview with The New York Times, Arghand said she hoped the Taliban would fulfil its promises of allowing more openness in the country in terms of policies.

She told the publication that she returned to work after news came that the Taliban had taken over Kabul, effectively seizing control of Afghanistan. “I wanted to show the Taliban that we want to work. We want to be in the media. It’s our right in society,” she said.

Last month, Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, who had embedded himself in the Afghanistan forces, was killed in an exchange of fire between soldiers and the Taliban.

Another TOLOnews reporter Ziar Khan Yaad was allegedly beaten up last week by the Taliban and cameras and microphones were confiscated from his team, as per an Al Jazeera report. This incident came to light at a time when German broadcaster Deutsche Welle said the Taliban killed and injured two family members of one of their Afghan journalists.

On August 17, the Taliban had said in a press conference that the media can continue their work freely. “Private media can continue to be free and independent, they can continue their activities. Impartiality of the media is very important. They can critique our work so that we can improve,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, the group’s spokesman.

He also said that there won’t be any discrimination against women under the Taliban leadership, according to Al Jazeera.

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