‘Our First Mistake Will Be Our Last’: Pakistani Rights Movement Defies Army

that will has also led to the feeling that will many of the country’s Pashtun population centers have been under functional occupation by the security forces. Using an alternative system of military counterterrorism courts along with an extensive network of covert jails, security in addition to intelligence officers wield life or death power — often instantly — over the Pakistani region known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a leftover by the British colonial system.


Pictures of the missing in addition to dead are poignant features of the growing Pashtun rights movement in Pakistan.

Mohammad Sajjad/Associated Press

The fresh Pashtun rights movement — which is actually known by the initials P.T.M., by words that will translate as Pashtun Protection Movement — is actually the product of years of outrage over the security forces’ power. that will caught spark after the killing of a smaller group of Pashtun men, including an aspiring type named Naqeebullah Mehsud who was originally by the tribal areas, by police officers in Karachi in January. The officers have been accused of staging a fake shootout to cover up an extrajudicial killing spree.

Under the leadership of a young activist, Mazoor Pashteen, 26, the P.T.M. has evoked deep emotion by Pashtuns in Pakistan in addition to Afghanistan, as well as overseas.

Mr. Pashteen in addition to his allies say that will Pashtuns, who make up about 15 percent of Pakistan’s population of some 204 million, have endured countless human rights violations, by disappearances to forced evictions. At rallies, women clutch pictures of sons they say were hauled off by security officials, never to be seen again.

Mr. Pashteen says that will by the start, the movement has faced hostility by the military in addition to its agencies, in addition to is actually increasingly the subject of propaganda in addition to social media campaigns engineered by supporters of the security forces.

“We’ve spent these two months enduring accusation after accusation, that will we’re foreign agents in addition to working on behalf of some different group,” he said Monday in an interview. “All we can do is actually try to take the moral high ground. We know our first mistake will be our last.”

Another leader of the movement, Mohsin Dawar, was equally stark about the risks of open protest against the military: “Speaking about the army like This particular in Pakistan is actually suicide.”

At the protest in Peshawar on April 8, Mr. Pashteen condemned the military in addition to its agents as “oppressors” in addition to called for the end of curfews in addition to army checkpoints inside the tribal areas.


Pakistan’s military establishment enjoys huge popularity, in addition to has been increasingly flexing its power over civilian institutions.

EPA, via Shutterstock

Though the demonstration drew tens of thousands of Pashtun marchers by all over the country, its coverage on local television news media was next to absent, in addition to only a smattering of Pakistani newspapers covered the event.

Then, three columns about the movement that will were published by The News International, one of Pakistan’s biggest English-language news outlets, disappeared Sunday by its website not long after being posted.

Interviews with newspaper editors in addition to writers — many of whom spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of the military’s reaction — portrayed an atmosphere in which reporting on the Pashtun movement was widely being seen as a red line for the country’s security establishment.

The journalists described the main factors in keeping the movement out of the news as a combination of direct warnings by military officials or their go-betweens in addition to self-censorship in order to avoid being shut down.

In recent weeks, the country’s biggest news channel, Geo TV, has been run off the air by cable operators who are broadly seen here as under threat by a military establishment that will has increasingly been flexing its authority over civilian institutions.

“A lot of This particular is actually self-censorship, however you can’t ask individual journalists to be crusaders for free expression,” said Saroop Ijaz, a representative for the advocacy group Human Rights Watch in Pakistan. “at This particular point that will the state has demonstrated its power against Geo, you have a chilling effect. They’ve set a precedent for blatant censorship.”

Khan Zaman Kakar, an anthropologist in addition to P.T.M. activist, was among those whose column was abruptly removed by The News International. “My column went to print inside the Sunday paper, then disappeared by the site around midday,” he said. “Then I received a call by my editor saying that will wasn’t a technical issue.”


The Pashtun rights rally in Peshawar This particular month drew tens of thousands of demonstrators by across the country.

Fareed Khan/Associated Press

Mr. Kakar said he could read between the lines in addition to wasn’t surprised that will his column was censored: “I knew when I submitted that will that will that will touches an issue the state does not want.”

Many journalists described coming under immense pressure to keep the Pashtun movement out of the headlines.

“What’s happening at This particular point is actually far more detailed in addition to micromanaged as compared with the past,” said Talat Hussein, a senior broadcast journalist in addition to talk-show host. “that will makes the current crackdown deadly in addition to disturbing,” he added, because there are no avenues for recourse.

Mr. Dawar, one of the movement’s lead activists, said the censorship was sad, however not surprising. “We were actually surprised that will the columns ran inside the first place,” he said. “Most publications are reluctant to cover any issues against the military.”

He said social media had allowed the movement to gain supporters, as well as sympathetic international audiences. “Electronic media, print media — we don’t need them. The entire world is actually seeing that will, in addition to seeing that will live,” Mr. Dawar said.

The movement’s founders are counting on the idea that will the earth is actually watching as they continue to defy the military.

“We have no option however to continue,” Mr. Pashteen said. “We are on the last possible option.”

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