Footage has emerged of armed Taliban militants surrounding an Afghani TV new host as he spoke about the group’s takeover of Afghanistan.
The footage was posted to Twitter by BBC World News host Yalda Hakim with the caption, “Afghanistan TV – surreal.”
“This is what a political debate now looks like on Afghan TV, Taliban foot soldiers watching over the host,” Hakim wrote.
“The presenter talks about the collapse of the Ghani govt & says the Islamic Emirate says the Afghan people should not be afraid.”
Taliban militants allegedly stormed the station and asked the anchor to talk to them, WION reports.
The armed militants watch the TV anchor intently as he speaks on Afghan TV network Peace Studio.
He reads the news and conducts a debate with other Taliban members as the armed foot soldiers stand by.
The 40-second clip has gone viral, with more than 810,000 views since it was posted earlier on Monday.
It has been retweeted more than 3,000 times.
“Surreal broadcasting courtesy of the Taliban, hope the anchor is OK,” one person wrote.
“Think the Taliban’s new shiny PR team will be having words later.”
“The deadness in the eyes of the foot soldiers reminds me of the look of Soviet troops in East Berlin back in the eighties,” another wrote.
“Brutalised and brutal.”
With each passing day since the fall of Kabul, new accounts have emerged of the Taliban targeting and intimidating the news media.
Another Afghani media figure whose on-air appearance went viral, female news anchor Beheshta Arghand, has now fled her country.
Earlier this month Arghand, a female anchor at Afghan news network TOLO, made history by interviewing a senior Taliban representative on the air.
The interview garnered headlines around the world.
Two days later, Arghand did it again, interviewing Malala Yousafzai, the activist who survived a Taliban assassination attempt, in what TOLO described as the first time Yousafzai had ever been interviewed on Afghan TV.
Arghand was blazing a trail, but her work has been put on hold.
She decided to leave Afghanistan, citing the dangers that so many journalists and ordinary Afghans are facing.
Ultimately, she said, “I left the country because, like millions of people, I fear the Taliban,” she told CNN via WhatsApp.
Saad Mohseni, the owner of TOLO, said Arghand’s case is emblematic of the situation in Afghanistan.
“Almost all our well-known reporters and journalists have left,” Mohseni said.
“We have been working like crazy to replace them with new people.
“We have the twin challenge of getting people out [because they feel unsafe] and keeping the operation going.”
Arghand is 24 years old.
She decided to become a journalist in ninth grade after one of her teachers let her come to the front of the room and read the news “like I was the anchor on TV.”
Arghand studied journalism at Kabul University for four years.
She worked at several news agencies and radio stations for short periods of time, then joined TOLONews as a presenter earlier this year.
“I worked there for one month and 20 days, then the Taliban came,” she recalled.
‘I did it for Afghan women’
Her August 17 interview with the Taliban was “the first time in Afghanistan’s history that a Taliban representative appeared live in a TV studio sitting across from a female presenter,” Mohseni said in a column for the Washington Post, asserting that the Taliban was trying to “present a moderate face to the world.”
Arghand said the interview was difficult, “but I did it for Afghan women.”
“I told myself, ‘One of us must start … If we stay in our houses or don’t go to our offices, they will say the ladies don’t want to work,’ but I said to myself, ‘Start working,’” Arghand said.
“And I said to the Taliban member, ‘We want our rights. We want to work. We want — we must —be in society. This is our right.”
Two days after interviewing Yousafzai, Arghand reached out to her activist for help.
On Tuesday, she boarded a Qatari Air Force evacuation flight along with several family members.
She said she hopes to return.
“If the Taliban do what they said, what they promised, and the situation becomes better, and I know I am safe and there is no threat for me, I will go back to my country and I will work for my country,” she said.
“For my people.”
– with CNN