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Afghanistan bans Pakistani newspapers, cites propaganda

Roberto Schmidt / Pool / EPA

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, right, meets Mahmood Khan Achakzai, a Pakistani politician and leader of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, at the presidential palace in Kabul on Saturday. Afghanistan has set in motion plans to ban the entry of all newspapers from Pakistan.

Afghanistan has banned all Pakistani newspapers over what security officials say is anti-government propaganda aimed at Kabul, the Ministry of Interior said on Saturday, in a move likely to worsen already tense cross-border ties.

The deputy interior minister in Afghanistan is ordering the Zone One border police commander to stop all the Pakistani newspapers coming from Pakistan through Torkham borders.

The statement says the Pakistani newspapers are an easy source for the Taliban to convey their message, which can change the minds of Afghans.

The main provinces where the papers are distributed are the Nangarhar, Kunar and Noristan provinces.

Pakistani newspapers are usually filled with statements that the Afghan government does not properly represent its people and that its NATO-led allies are "occupying" the country, rather than offering security support, Ihsanuddin Taheri, an interior ministry spokesman, told Reuters.

Some papers have also published speeches by Taliban insurgency leaders, he added, at a time when the government is trying to lure the Taliban into nascent peace talks aimed at ending the 11-year Afghan war.

"We totally reject these statements and the ban is to show them this," said Taheri, adding the nationwide ban could only be reversed by a ministerial decree.

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Ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been strained by months of cross-border shelling that officials in Kabul have blamed on Pakistan's military. Islamabad accuses Afghanistan of failing to stop anti-government militants operating from mountain havens on Kabul's side of the border. 

On Thursday, the Afghan foreign minister told the U.N. Security Council in New York that diplomatic ties with Pakistan were under threat.

NBC's Atia Abawi and Reuters contributed to this story.

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