Days after she became the first female journalist to interview a Taliban representative on live television, news anchor Beheshta Arghand fled Afghanistan, after several members of the media received intimidating messages from the Taliban.
Arghand, 24, worked for the TOLO news station, and conducted her groundbreaking interview on Aug. 17. She told CNN Business it wasn't easy to sit across from the Taliban spokesman, but "I did it for Afghan women." When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s and early 2000s, women were oppressed, forced to wear burqas and unable to hold most jobs. Arghand said she went to TOLO's offices so the Taliban couldn't say "ladies don't want to work," and when she was face to face with the representative, told him, "We want our rights. We want to work. We want — we must — be in society. This is our right."
On Aug. 19, Arghand interviewed activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot by a member of the Taliban in Pakistan, in what TOLO said was Yousafzai's first-ever interview with an Afghan television station. Following her interview with Yousafzai, Arghand said she contacted an activist and asked for help escaping Afghanistan, and was able to flee with several of her relatives on a Qatari Air Force evacuation flight. "I left the country because, like millions of people, I fear the Taliban," she said.
Arghand told CNN Business that 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. For my people." TOLO's owner, Saeed Mohseni, told CNN's Reliable Source on Sunday that nearly every one of the station's "well known reporters and journalists have left. We have been working like crazy to replace them with new people."