Articles Pakistan Media was Forced Not to Run- II

The Pakistani Deep state is attempting to muzzle Pakistani voices on the mainstream media. We at New Pakistan believe it is our duty to make sure these voices and what they say is read by all of you.

In this series we will print those articles that were not published by the mainstream media.

The second is an article by Mosharraf Zaidi. In his tweet of April 17, 2018 Mr Zaid stated on twitter: “For the first time in over a decade, @thenews_intl has refused to publish my column. This unnecessary muzzling of debate is not healthy. Strong nations cultivate robust debate. Weak ones fear it. Pakistan is stronger than it is being allowed to be.”

Here are a few lines from the article, the rest of the article is available in images below.

‘Making Pakistan Zindabad count’

Mosharraf Zaidi

“There is a crisis in our national discourse and the tendency in times like this is to pick a side and exacerbate the crisis. The national leadership has failed to apply the handbrake and take stock. The result is a slippery slope which the country is sliding at a pace that is neither sustainable, nor good for the future of the country. One of the worst things we can do at this time is to pick a side because really there are no sides here other than Pakistan, and that is the only side each of us should be on. But the absolute, single worst thing we can do at this time is to look away and ignore the crisis.”

Articles Pakistan Media was Forced Not to Run-1

The Pakistani Deep state is attempting to muzzle Pakistani voices on the mainstream media. We at New Pakistan believe it is our duty to make sure these voices and what they say is read by all of you.

In this series we will print those articles that were not published by the mainstream media.

The first is an article Mr Babar Sattar. On April 13, Mr Sattar stated on twitter: “Media is banned from mentioning #PTM. Geo-Jang shut down/ordered not to touch sensitive topics. So my Saturday column couldn’t be published #TheAgeOfFreelyControlledMedia. The debate triggered by #PTM is about coercive relationship btw citizen & Pakistani state.”

Here are a few lines from his article followed by the rest of the article below

We still have a soul

Babar Sattar

“Manzoor Pashteen’s social consciousness may be rooted in his Pasthun identity. He may be motivated by sufferings of fellow Pashtun’s he has seen growing up. But the questions he is asking are relevant for all of us. The debate triggered by Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement is about the coercive relationship between a citizen and Pakistani state and the character, priorities and actions of our state that are undermining three foundational rights of citizens upon which is built the edifice of the rest of their rights i.e. their rights to life/liberty, dignity and equality.”

Will the Pasthun Tahhafuz Movement change Pakistani politics?

Will the Pashtun Tahhafuz Movement help transform not only Pashtun but Pakistani politics and provide space for all oppressed communities to finally have a say in their country of birth? Or will the establishment strike back and suppress this movement? Pakistan’s future will be shaped by the future of PTM and movements like this.

Newsweek Pakistan notes that “Pakistan risks tragedy if it does not heed demands of basic rights by Pashtun protesters.” Tracing the history, the article notes: “Decades ago, Pakistan made the decision to “preserve” the tribal society of the Pashtun by keeping them separate from the rest of the country, resulting in little development and enforcement of primitive laws. As the Pashtun population outgrew FATA, it spread to the rest of the country through internal migration, destroying the roots of Pashtun culture. Nobody paid attention to this until “internal” became “external” and residents of FATA migrated to the Middle East. Then the Afghan jihad spawned local warlords who destroyed the jirga system of the tribes, and mere savagery replaced Pakistan’s badly scuffed administration. After this, Pakistan had to suffer the consequences of the original decision to retain FATA as a kind of tribal museum, without schools and without economic development. Karachi in time became the most populous Pashtun city in the world. Because of lack of policy elsewhere, it too started to become lawless like FATA.”

Former Senator Afrasiab Khattak writes “It is for the first time that a nascent sociopolitical movement has successfully beaten back the monopoly of state controlled and corporate electronic and print media on access to information by the effective use of  social media for spreading its message. This achievement is remarkable for the youth of a marginalised people living in an ‘ excluded area’ under the yet to be reformed colonial structures. But it is also important to remember that a strong wave of solidarity across the ethnic and regional boundaries attracted by the movement made this achievement possible.

Refuting insinuations “about the “engineered” nature of PTM” Khattak states: “Those who have raised no objection over Afghan Taliban Amir accepting oath of allegiance of Pakistani Taliban are perturbed over popularity of Pashteen cap across the Durand Line as an act of solidarity for peace in both countries! PTM has repeatedly stated that it stands for the rights of oppressed people within the limits of Pakistani Constitution but the intelligence agencies are orchestrating artificial and so called demonstrations against PTM to give the impression as if the the youth movement is a threat for the country. It is particularly weird in a country where 139 UN designated terrorist entities don’t face the type of hounding and maligning that is faced by a grass roots non violent human rights movement.”

 

Ending on a note of caution Newsweek Pakistan points out: “The truth is that the Pashtun represent the failure of Pakistan to become a normal state. The country was divided into Bangladesh and Pakistan in 1971 because of the mistakes it made in its evolution. Now the Pashtun want a correction that Pakistan would do well to understand before it suffers yet another tragedy.

Mainstream Media Blackout of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement

Time and time again non-Punjabi Pakistanis have always felt they were treated as second class citizens. When something happens in Punjab, everyone including the media pays attention but when something happens in another part of the country it does not matter. Nothing exemplifies this better than then the media ignoring the plight of the Baluch and the Pashtuns. The four month old Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) protest march has been ignored by the mainstream media.

 

The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement started in 2014, initially as an initiative to clear land mines in the border areas but in January 2018 it turned into a demand for justice after the extrajudicial killing by police force in Karachi of a young Pashtun, Naqeebullah Mehsud.

 

According to a report in the German paper Deutsche Welle, PTM is a secular movement, led by young activist Manzoor Pashteen, that “has struck a chord with thousands of Pashtuns, who say “enough is enough.” The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (Movement for the Protection of Pashtuns, PTM) blames both the Pakistani military and Islamists for the destruction in their region. Essentially an anti-war campaign, the PTM sprang up as a result of the killing of the 27-year-old Naqeebullah Masood, who was killed by police in the southern city of Karachi on January 20. The authorities claimed Masood had links with militants, a charge his family and civil society activists deny. Rights groups say that thousands of Pashtun youths have been murdered or abducted by security agencies in the past decades on unproven terrorism charges. State authorities use the pretext of war on terrorism to persecute Pashtuns, they say. Over the years, Pashtuns have been branded as Islamists, or militants, due to the fact that the Taliban are also a Pashtun-dominated outfit, and because the radicalism in the country’s northern areas has spiked over the years as a result of decades-long wars.”

 

According to Senator Usman Kakar of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party The PTM “demands that all ‘missing’ Pashtuns should be produced before the court of law. It demands that all landmines in the northwestern tribal areas be cleared and the army stops demolishing Pashtuns’ houses on suspicion of militant links,” Kakar told DW. “The [Pashtun] anger had been simmering for years. If it wasn’t Pashteen, someone else would have started the movement,” Kakar said. “Mainstream Pashtun parties have an organizational structure and a political manifesto; the PTM doesn’t,” underlined Kakar, who admits that Pakistan’s political parties are fearful of this new movement in a strategically important province. “Pashtun nationalist parties usually do not want to offend the military because it could affect their political role. But Pashteen’s claim to fame is that unlike other politicians he is clear about what he wants,” Kakar said.”

 

And yet as an Editorial in Daily Times stated the media blackout of the PTM’s rally “will be remembered for its betrayal of all the principles that underlie the profession of journalism. None of the channels did justice, in their coverage, to the largest political gathering of the day held by the Pushtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). While live coverage was given to much smaller rallies of the PTI and the PPP as well as the youth convention of an extreme right-wing party that is at the very verge of oblivion, the largest political movement to have emerged in the country after the 2007-08 lawyers’ movement was blacked out. This must stay with the country’s media as an embarrassment and should make media professionals, as a collective, do some soul searching about their profession. PTM’s Sunday rally was without a doubt the biggest political show in the city of Peshawar in recent history. When so many Pakistanis gather in a public arena and demand nothing more than a right to dignified existence, our state institutions must understand that something must have been terribly wrong with their policies vis-à-vis the region. Instead of going on the defensive, the institutions will do well to listen patiently to the grievances of these persecuted and war-torn citizens of the republic. The protesters have been explaining their demands again and again, and the authorities have yet to meet them even half way through. Rao Anwar is under arrest and faces prosecution of Naqeebullah Mehsud’s murder. But that is not the only crime he has been accused of. A good faith effort from the state will require a thorough investigation of all charges of extrajudicial murder against him and other officials. And Anwar is just the tip of the iceberg Manzoor Pashteen and his colleagues in PTM have pointed towards. Their complaints about enforced disappearances need to be addressed by ensuring safe return of those disappeared and action against those involved in the matter. Our institutions must prove, and do so quickly, that they are concerned about excesses committed by security personnel that have been highlighted by the PTM. Unfortunately, the pace at which the authorities are proceeding so far suggests otherwise. This must be addressed urgently, if Pakistan is to sustain gains made from the continuity of the democratic process in the last decade.”

HRCP: “An even playing field for all”

During its 70-year history Pakistan has had few ‘free and fair’ elections. With the next elections due this year, there are fears that the powers that be will once again try to manipulate the results. With this in the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan called for “the importance of ensuring an even playing field for all—without interference from any state agency.”

 

Demands for rolling back the 18th Amendment, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, mainstreaming extremist groups, and exclusion of civil society from the affairs of the state were only some of the key issues that concerned the HRCP.

 

According to the statement released after the HRCP’s 32nd Annual Meeting: “There must be special efforts to ensure that both women and religious minorities are able to participate in, and contest, the elections freely and without fear, pressure or intimidation. In this context, mobile polling stations could be a way of ensuring that people who might otherwise be unable to vote, are able to exercise this fundamental right.”

 

Further “The shrinking space for progressive thought in Pakistan is especially disconcerting. The fact that NOCs are apparently in the control of the security agencies and that donor money is not going to the areas where it is most needed—such as ‘no-go’ areas in Balochistan and FATA—means that human rights are increasingly under strain.” “Pointing to the recent case of Geo TV having inexplicably been taken off air, the continual harassment of journalists, the closure of the Quetta Press Club and restrictions on circulations of newspapers in the city, HRCP has underscored the fact that freedom of expression in Pakistan remains under attack.”

 

HRCP lamented that: “The space that has opened up for religious and militant organizations to operate with impunity is reflected in the hero’s welcome that awaited the 26 people acquitted by the courts in the case of Mashal Khan’s mob lynching.”

 

HRCP also welcomed the Pashtun Tahafuz movement “in the spirit that all people have a right to express their grievances peacefully. The legitimate concerns underlying the movement reflect a breakdown in the relationship between the state and the people. We urge the government to listen to these concerns and to refrain from interfering in the Pashtuns’ right of association as well as that of others.”

 

HRCP was also appalled by the recent Islamabad High Court ruling that “proposes making a declaration of faith mandatory for government and semi-government job applicants, including for the armed forces, judiciary and the civil services. This ruling has serious repercussions for all religious minorities, not least the Ahmadiyya community. Such requirements will only enable and deepen institutional discrimination against minority communities.”

 

Finally the HRCP criticized the increasing trend of judicial activism, “Rather than relying on vague interpretations of morality, the superior judiciary should decide cases of public importance based on established constitutional and legal principles. The excessive number of suo moto cases in the last year have in no way served to strengthen democracy.”