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Pashtun Tahfuz Movement and the Dubious International Media

By Taimur Khan

Information and knowledge is power and the methods of presenting information and knowledge has profound impact on shaping perceptions and perspectives of the masses. Revolution in communication technologies in this age of globalization has bestowed the field of “Media” with immense power and unlimited outreach. This unprecedented power and outreach has transformed the field of media (in all forms) into a social institution, naturally placing enormous social, moral and ethical responsibilities on the shoulders of the field of media and journalism.

In the contemporary times, where on one hand, media have been responsible for healthy and positive changes in societies around the world, such as becoming the voice of the marginalized, spreading the message of democracy and human rights and creating awareness amongst the masses regarding matters and issues that affect their lives and security. The very same media has also been responsible for spreading misinformation, propaganda and lies, resulting in conflicts, wars and destruction around the world as well.

Media, national or international, regardless of its unprecedented power and outreach has many social responsibilities that it needs to fulfill. Those social responsibilities include the reflection of truth, accuracy, objectivity and balance in its content. The media should be self-regulating within the framework of law and established institutions nationally and internationally and most significantly, media should avoid everything that might lead to crime, violence or civil disorder or give offense to any group in the world.

Unfortunately, media, especially the international media with a few exceptions, is not adhering to its journalistic responsibilities anymore and  subjecting  propaganda and misinformation on a colossal scale.  Today, the field of media no longer functions as a social institution but rather as an ‘industry’. The best example of this is the current interest of the international media in “Pashtun Tahafuz Movement” and its leader Manzoor Pashteen.

The international media is portraying Manzoor Pashteen as the Che Guevara of the Pakistani Pashtun and the ‘movement’ led by him as the “Pashtun Renaissance”. Few minor issues of tribal belt of Pakistan are being portrayed as a global issue with far reaching consequences. Acting as a typical monetized industry and riding the anti-Pakistan rhetoric train, the international media is hell bent on painting the Pakistani state and its institutions as repressive and dictatorial, that is marginalizing its people, particularly the Pashtuns and suppressing the voice of the public. The reality however, is on the contrary and as evident from the coverage of the international media of this matter, the Pakistani state’s narrative and the steps taken by it to reprimand the situation are missing and purposefully ignored.

Lest the international media forget, the Pakistan state considers the demands of the PTM as legitimate and has even went on to address majority of the demands put forward by the PTM leadership such as the removal of landmines from operational areas of FATA, disbandment of many military check posts in the region, and reimbursement of losses endured by the traders and people of FATA. The Pakistani state and the army in particular are also working on resolving the issue of missing persons as well. The Pakistani state, like any other functioning democracy is listening to the concerns of its public and addressing their grievances accordingly but the international media purposefully ignoring all the efforts being made by the state and rigorously working in promoting anti-Pakistan agenda by instigating propaganda, spreading misinformation in an attempt to turn the people of Pakistan, particularly the Pashtuns against the state of Pakistan and its institutions.

The sudden interest of the international media in the plight of the Pashtuns raises suspicions about its motives and intentions. Where was this international media that acts as moral police now, when the US invaded Afghanistan back in 2001 and started a decades’ long military campaign that resulted in the suffering of millions of Pashtuns in Afghanistan? Why the international media was silent about the sacrifices rendered by the Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line (border between Pakistan and Afghanistan)during the US-launched War on Terror? Why is the international media silent about the innumerable sacrifices and losses endured by Pakistan in War against terrorism, a war that was not even Pakistan’s war to begin with?

The international media should stop acting as a tool for destabilizing forces and focus on the coverage of more pressing issues that are costing the lives of innocent people around the world, case and point the Israeli atrocities against innocent Palestinians, oppression of the Kashmiri people at the hands of the Indian state and occupying forces, the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians caused by the proxy wars of western powers in different parts of the world such as Africa and Middle East, and last but certainly not the least, the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims by the military and Buddhists of Myanmar.

Media is a very important social institution  with a aim to improve upon information, for good of people. International media is fast losing its credibility, therefore, rather than being agent of subversion against Pakistan and spewing propaganda, the International Media should correct its course.

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