KABUL: Afghanistan banned all Pakistani newspapers from entering the country on Friday in an attempt to block the Taliban from influencing public opinion via the press.
The order, issued by the Ministry of Interior, adds to the mounting tension between the neighboring countries.
It focuses specifically on blocking entry of the papers at Torkham, a busy border crossing, and directed border police to gather up Pakistani newspapers in the three eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Nuristan.
In a statement, the ministry said the newspapers were a conduit for Taliban propaganda.
”The news is not based in reality and it is creating concerns for our countrymen in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan,” the ministry said in a statement. ”Also, the newspapers are a propaganda resource of the Taliban spokesmen.”
The tensions between the two countries were highlighted Thursday at a UN Security Council meeting, when Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul called on Pakistan to stop shelling in the border province of Kunar, which he said has killed dozens of civilians.
He said the attacks were jeopardizing bilateral relations ”with potential negative consequences for necessary bilateral cooperation for peace, security and economic development in our two countries and the wider region.”
Many Pakistani Taliban fighters have fled to Kunar and surrounding areas after Pakistan’s army pushed them out of its tribal region, taking advantage of the US military’s withdrawal of most of its forces from these Afghan border provinces in recent years.