Waziristan: Pakistani media blacks out the ongoing unrest linked to PTM
In Wana, South Waziristan militants clashed with followers of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), in what is being described as an organized campaign against the PTM. On ground sources have told safenewsrooms.org that the militants attacking PTM belong to the “good” Taliban group, which are believed to be backed by the Pakistan’s powerful military establishment.
Despite the gravity of the situation, and subsequent curfew imposed in the area by the authorities, the Pakistani mainstream media has barely covered the story, with none of the Urdu news channels covering the incident, whereas some English newspapers have covered it online. The only information that has made it out is via social media and through international publications.
The local mainstream Urdu media has behaved in the same manner we have observed in the past, when it comes to giving coverage to the PTM. Insiders have told safenewsrooms.org that the military has given strict instructions to local news organizations to not cover the PTM or any related coverage. In the past we had even seen how opinion pieces regarding PTM were removed from the websites of some Pakistani news organizations and a famous Pashtun television anchor also lost her job for being a vocal supporter of PTM.
Sources on ground say that Ali Wazir, one of the leaders of PTM, who has already lost seventeen of his family members to attacks by the Taliban was leading a rally in the area when the local Taliban faction of the Mullah Nazir group attacked the PTM leaders and workers, taking away the symbolic Pastheen caps and putting them on fire. Subsequently, the PTM rally participants, including Ali Wazir were told to leave Wana or leave PTM. When they refused, the militants even open fired on them, killing at least two people, as per the official version. The PTM claims the death toll of their followers is much higher, with as many as ten people being killed, and scored of others injured.
CENSORSHIP A NORM IN FATA
Pakistani media rarely covers developments in FATA and when they do, it is usually an ISPR issued press release that is not even independently verified. Many journalists that safenewsrooms.org is in touch with have expressed serious safety concerns and complain of being stuck between the military and militancy, with no support from their parent organizations. This is not the first incident of a media blackout in the tribal belt. Just few days ago, a sit-in against target killing of locals in Waziristan met a similar treatment and was not covered by the mainstream media, and information only reached the Pakistani public and the rest of the world through social media.