On social media, a video of an Afghan TV anchor in a suit and tie continuing to host his talk show while surrounded by gun-toting Taliban fighters has gone viral.
The 42-second film shows Afghanistan TV anchor Mirwaiz Haidari Haqdost sitting close to a Taliban leader while delivering a message from the hardline organization, according to Vice.
The Taliban militants rushed the facility on Sunday, according to media sources, and wanted to speak with the broadcaster. The anchor, who spoke in Pashto, discussed the fall of Afghanistan’s Ashraf Ghani administration and asked residents to collaborate with the organization and “not be frightened.”
The irony of the shooters appearing in front of a banner identifying the show as coming from “Afghanistan’s Peace Studio” was not missed on social media users. They quickly pointed out the deterioration of press freedom and individual liberty under Taliban control.
In a tweet, the BBC’s Yalda Hakim stated, “This is what a political debate now looks like on Afghan TV, Taliban foot soldiers watching over the host.”
“The presenter talks about the collapse of the Ghani govt. and says the Islamic Emirate says the Afghan people should not to be afraid,” she said of the Sunday program.
Another BBC correspondent, Kian Sharifi, also shared the terrifying clip.
“With armed Taliban fighters standing behind him, the presenter of Afghan TV’s Peace Studio political debate programme says the Islamic Emirate (Taliban’s preferred name) wants the public to ‘cooperate with it and should not be afraid,’” Sharifi tweeted.
“The programme is called Pardaz. In this longer video, the presenter interviews a Taliban fighter who presumably outranks the others in the studio. He said, “The presenter switches from Dari to Pashto, which unfortunately I don’t speak.”
President Biden was urged to examine the video and “let us know if these militants posing behind this visibly petrified TV host are holding American weapons,” according to Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad.
“This is surreal,” she wrote. Taliban fighters are posing with weapons behind this clearly terrified TV anchor, forcing him to proclaim that the Afghan people should not be afraid of the Islamic Emirate.
“Taliban itself is synonymous with fear in the minds of millions. Alinejad continued, “This is just another proof.”
The hostage-style film was released as the Taliban attempted to promote a gentler image in a propaganda effort after the Islamic militant group’s last harsh rule 20 years ago.