IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

How Afghanistan's morning TV show host reports the news without provoking the Taliban

Yalda Ali shared how she has to be "very careful" as she honestly delivers news without angering the Taliban to potentially put her life in jeopardy.
/ Source: TODAY

Television host Yalda Ali tries to navigate a potentially life-threatening situation every day as she presents the news since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan's government a month ago.

The 25-year-old host of the daily "Good Morning" show on Afghanistan's TOLO news channel aims to present the news honestly while also not provoking the anger of the Taliban to where it could put her life in jeopardy.

Ali spoke with NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel on TODAY Friday about how she juggles doing her job without provoking a government that used to stone women to death and ban them from attending school when the Taliban ruled the country in the 1990s.

"I have to be very careful about every single word, and also about the makeup that I wear, how I dress and how I behave around men," Ali told Engel. "We don’t know if we have freedom of speech, so we have to be careful so the Taliban don’t get crazy and we get harmed."

The Taliban made promises after they regained power that this time their harsh and repressive attitudes toward women have changed. However, when women protested for their rights in the Afghan capitol of Kabul earlier this month, several of the women said they were beaten by the Taliban.

Ali wears less makeup and dresses more conservatively than she did before the Taliban took over, but she remains a vibrant presence on television.

"In these conditions, I come in front of the camera with all this fear in my heart, but I smile," she said. "We are very careful in chatting and smiling or laughing. The Taliban say women should cover from head to foot, but that’s not my personality. I am very cheerful with everyone."

The Taliban has continued to let TOLO operate but does have a violent history with the organization. The Taliban has attacked TOLO twice since its founding in 2004 and has killed eight reporters and staff members.

Ali remains committed to delivering the news to the people of Afghanistan. She has only been an anchor for two weeks after replacing her predecessor, who was one of thousands who fled the country when U.S. troops left after 20 years.

"Journalists can give people hope," she said. "People start their day with us. If the regime changes and people don’t see their anchor, their hearts are broken. They wonder, 'What happened to her?'

"In these conditions, I would like to tell them to always smile, because one smile can lift a nation for a day."