Afghanistan has issued a nationwide ban against Pakistani newspapers to stop what security officials consider anti-government propaganda aimed at Kabul.
Ihsanuddin Taheri, a government spokesman, told the Reuters news agency on Saturday that Pakistani newspapers are often misleading in their reporting of the Afghan administration and wrongly accuse NATO-led forces of "occupying" the country, rather than offering security support.
He added that some papers have also published speeches by Taliban leaders, hampering the government's effort to bring the Taliban into peace talks aimed at ending the country's 11-year conflict.
"We totally reject these statements and the ban is to show them this," Taheri said.
Afghan border police have been ordered to sweep shops in the eastern provinces of Nuristan, Kunar and Nangarhar near the Pakistan border to seize copies of Pakistani papers, he said.
The east of the country has been the focus for foreign and Afghan security operations against fighters over the summer months ahead of a NATO pullout of most combat troops by 2014.
Ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been strained by months of cross-border shelling which officials in Kabul have blamed on Pakistan's military.
Islamabad accuses Afghanistan of failing to stop anti-government fighters operating from mountain havens on Kabul's side of the border.
On Thursday, the Afghan foreign minister told the UN Security Council in New York that diplomatic ties with Pakistan were under threat.
The newspaper ban, which is likely to worsen already tense cross-border ties, could only be reversed by a ministerial decree.
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|William A. Cook|