President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah on Monday overturned a recent decision to ban two social media chat groups, WhatsApp and Telegram.
The two leaders met to discuss the issue which caused widespread anger in the country – particularly among civil society activists.
The two leaders have described the ban on the social media platforms as being against the law and ordered WhatsApp and Telegram to work as normal in Afghanistan.
“President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah met today and decided that there will be no ban on Whatsapp and Telegram in Afghanistan,” Abdullah said on Twitter Monday evening.
The Presidential Palace said in a statement that the Afghan constitution has protected freedom of speech in the country and that the NUG was committed to its constitutional responsibilities.
“The constitution of Afghanistan has guaranteed freedom of speech and the National Unity Government is committed to the execution and protection of the values. Based on the constitutional provision, freedom of speech is protected from any kind of aggression and the National Unity Government considers itself responsible for it,” the press release reads.
“Recently reports surfaced in the media about a ban on WhatsApp and Telegram and the news created concerns among public; the National Unity Government will not allow any address nor institution to impose a ban on the tools related to freedom of speech, the report will be investigated and it will be dealt with,” concludes the press release.
On Friday, the Afghanistan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA) issued an official letter that was sent to the media stating it would ban WhatsApp and Telegram for the month of November, citing security issues as the reason.
Later, officials from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) told TOLOnews that the accounts of some WhatsApp and Telegram users will be banned for security reasons.
The move sparked an outcry in the country and civil society activists said it was in contravention of freedom of speech. Some Kabul residents suggested that government should boost its control over social media platforms instead of banning some of them.
The number of people using social media has grown phenomenally in Afghanistan in the past few years and WhatsApp and Telegram are particularly popular in the country.