Exclusive interview with director of Afghanistan’s largest news channel

New Delhi — Lotfullah Najafizada is the director of TOLO News, Afghanistan’s largest news broadcaster. At the age of 33, he took a closer look at things in a war-torn country, including threats of murder, death, employee injuries, and admiration for fearless journalism.

Epoch Times Kabul-based Naja Fizada Call about his thoughts on the current situation in Afghanistan after President Joe Biden declared the withdrawal of US troops by September 11.

“I think Afghanistan is promoting engagement and partnership, with US and Afghanistan leaders saying there is a new chapter in partnership with the US,” Najafizada said in response to what Afghanistan wants to say. I did. With Biden at this point.

“I don’t know what the new chapter will look like. It’s not really explained. Well explained! But the people of Afghanistan are for partnerships with everyone, not just the United States. I think. I’ve seen the cost of separation. And the price is very very high. “

Without integrated Afghanistan, their people, especially their younger generation, would be isolated from the rest of the world, According to Najafizada A person from a journalist’s family.

“And for that, we need to work together. [to work together] With everyone on the global stage. And I think the Afghans are pretty determined about it, “he said. “We have a say because we are on one side of the table. I think it’s very easy to say. We are for ourselves and in one of the most difficult regions in the world. I’m fighting for the safety of. “

According to Najafizada, terrorists are not only targeting Afghans, but also want the opportunity to attack people across national borders.

“These people here are Indian enemies, Chinese enemies, Russian enemies, US and Western enemies, and Iran’s enemies,” he added, with the Afghan people taking their role in the case of battle. He added that he would do it.

Relatives mourn the victims of the May 8 explosion during a mass funeral in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 9, 2021. (Stringer / Reuters)

China angle

When asked if the new situation in Afghanistan would lead to a new “great game” with China to replace the former Soviet Union, Najafizada has no substitute for the support the U.S. government has given to his country. Said.

“I don’t think China is very aggressive about Afghanistan’s policies. It only needs $ 4-5 billion a year to fund Afghan security forces, with an additional $ 3-4 billion in the private budget. Given, mainly from the United States. I know the US troops are leaving, but that support will continue until 2024, “he said. He said the United States and China are two major world powers and have competing interests, but he does not consider Afghanistan to be the top region of their competition.

“Even if they have money, I haven’t seen an area or more power that can afford it or be willing to do it,” he said.

By the time the US military leaves by September, the region must work together to decide whether to deal with the civil war next door or if we all work hand in hand to create peace. Before the soldiers leave. “

Chinese International English Cable TV news service, CGTN Chinese State Council members and Foreign Minister Wang Yi reported in a recent meeting with Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar that he expressed Beijing’s willingness to help Afghanistan strengthen its anti-terrorism capabilities.

However, Najafizada said there were no Chinese troops in Afghanistan. “I don’t think partnerships and collaborations with China are that strong. I don’t think it will be in the near future.”

He said Afghans are concerned about reports of human rights abuses within the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

“We are dissatisfied with it as Muslims and humans. By the way, Afghans are quite vocal about all the reports and human rights abuses we hear in that part of China adjacent to Afghanistan. I think I’ve raised it. “

Mosque bombing in Kabul
Afghans are standing near a mosque after a bomb explosion in the Shakar Dara district of Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 14, 2021. (Rahmat Gul / AP photo)

Local issues and impacts

Mr Najafizda said the conflict was initially a problem for the Afghan people, but the persistent problem is regional and the country needs regional and global assistance to resolve it.

“There are many international terrorist organizations we fight for, not only for ourselves, but for the security of all members of the international community, including India, so for that we need regional and international support. I need it. “

“That is, this is an unfortunate case that has been in conflict with regional reasons and roots for a very long time. So this is the first problem for Afghans as we pay the final price. Then it is the regional It’s a problem, then it’s a world problem. “

No one should be able to plan 9/11 again using Afghan soil, according to Najafizada. “No one should feel threatened by Afghanistan. It requires joint efforts for peace.”

Afghanistan shares a border with Pakistan, including the conflict area of ​​Gilgit-Baltistan, which is dominated by Pakistan, claimed by India, and China is building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project. It also borders Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in three Central Asian countries, and a short border with the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Najafizada said countries in all regions bordering Afghanistan have some influence on the situation in Afghanistan.

“I think countries in all regions, including Iran, including Pakistan, are very influential. I can’t rule out that,” he said when asked if there was an Iranian agent in Afghanistan. It was.

“As you said, we can’t explain or provide evidence that there are agents elsewhere in government or society. Of course, we are neighbors and have relationships with all these countries. There is, “said Najafizada.

“We share language, religion, have similarities, and have common interests. And there are gestures and goodwill, emotional connections, they are there. And these are powerful. It’s a country. “

It should be used for peace as regional powers are involved and influencing the situation in Afghanistan.

“Because they know they will benefit from peace over war, especially now that international forces are gone, so this is an opportunity for all of them, or for Iran, Pakistan, India and Russia, for China. It’s a window. It’s right next door to all these big players, “says Najafizada.

He said the area involved historic enemies and needed to make sure that Afghanistan was not being used against neighboring countries.

“It’s a message to all direct and distant neighbors, so I think it’s clear that the principle wasn’t compromised,” he said in response to the question. Report About the competition between India and Pakistan Heating in Afghanistan..

Epoch Times Photo
File image of the gesture of Zalmay Khalilzad (L), US Special Representative for Peace and Reconciliation in Afghanistan, speaking in a forum with Afghan Director of TOLO News Lotfullah Najafizada (R) at Tolo TV Station in Kabul on April 28, 2019. .. (KOHSAR / AFP via WAKIL Getty Images)

Afghanistan story

As a country devastated by war, dependent on aid and now facing instability after announcing the withdrawal of the army, the Epoch Times asks Najafizada about Afghanistan’s own story in the regional and global views of the trend. I did.

“I think the story of Afghanistan is that the country has to understand, solve and find solutions to problems,” he adds, adding that the people of Afghanistan are very “resilience”, the past 40. It has been shown in the conflict of the year.

“We are not separated as a nation. We are not! We have paid a huge price. Power has come and gone, abandoned, intervened and invaded us. But I think they are very tenacious as a whole Afghan people. “

Najafizada said he was in Kabul, grew up here, and told the story as someone who saw everything.

“I’m pretty optimistic. It doesn’t mean it’s not difficult. It’s not about how Afghan history determines US intervention,” he said.

“Or how does the world see the last two decades from a Western perspective because it is a Western issue? But the issue in Afghanistan is that we have seen many ups and downs. This year is very Hopefully we can have a political solution with the Taliban, and that will be positive, otherwise it will be more bloody and fighting. I’m worried about it. “

Mr Najafizada said the Afghans are determined to do their thing for peace. He said the war was not good, it had been going on for a long time, and it had to be “finished.”

“This is not good. This is actually very frustrating,” said Najafizada. “It’s very difficult for people. In the last couple of generations, they’ve only seen violence and bloodshed.”

He said he had experienced it personally. His first childhood memories are from the early 1990s when the rocket landed at his parents’ home in Kabul and lived in various cities in Afghanistan while fleeing conflict and growing.

He said he wouldn’t paint a “rosy picture”, but he is trying to emphasize that in any situation he has no choice but to work for peace.

Najafizada said he dreamed of democratic Afghanistan, which could play a constructive role on the world stage.

“We will fight for Afghanistan, [to] Being a democratic country and a very constructive player on the globalist stage. Friendly relations with other parts of the world. Girls, children, women and minorities thrive in families with equal rights, “he said.

“And this is Afghanistan, where we imagine and work tirelessly to get there. We have come a long way in the last 20 years. We will continue. So I am here. And that’s why we do what we do. “

This article is the second in a series of “Changes in the situation in Afghanistan during the withdrawal of US troops”, in which the Epoch Times discusses the domestic situation with global analysts, lawmakers, ideological leaders and the general public in Afghanistan. Gather a broader perspective. You can read the first article here.