Pashtun Tahafuz Movement – Social Media Beats Censorship
Young Pashtuns are angry and critical of the state policies. Rabia Mehmood closely followed the social media conversations for Naya Daur
Pashtun Tahafuz Movement’s rally of April 8 brought thousands together in Peshawar to ask the state of Pakistan for their constitutional and human rights. The gathering was, like the movement itself, peaceful and followed the ideology of nonviolence. It was a blaring, loud roar for peace by the Pashtuns of Pakistan.
— Nilofer Afridi Qazi (@ninoqazi) April 8, 2018
Have never been at a rally demanding basic human rights, such as an end to encounter killings and enforced disappearances, that has been as big as this. #PashtunTahafuzMovement #PashtunLongMarch2Peshawar pic.twitter.com/e5xT4bKUtC
— Asad Hashim (@AsadHashim) April 8, 2018
Journalists love a crowd, if an “event” has a significant number of people attending, for instance a protest, a rally or congregation of any sort, they want to be there. However, despite the count of people at the PTM rally being above 10000 at least, there was widespread censorship. Barring a few reports in the English dailies, and a talk show or two, blackout on a people’s movement that is demanding rights from the state is unethical. To be honest, the coverage of PTM since it began campaigning has been paltry at best.
Today I feel ashamed as a journalist for the media blackout of #PashtunLongMarch2Peshawar I support this march and urge all to be part of it.
— Mubashir Zaidi (@Xadeejournalist) April 8, 2018
This media blackout is undemocratic because it took away an opportunity to highlight the plight of the suffering Pashtuns. It also missed the chance to educate and inform the rest of Pakistanis about what the people of FATA and KP have gone through in the name of countering militancy here.
— Gulalai_Ismail (@Gulalai_Ismail) April 8, 2018
Those who are ethnically privileged are uninformed about the colossal loss the residents of KP, FATA and Balochistan have faced. Not that it is the duty of the marginalised to bring attention to the attacks on their dignity by the militants and the state but the media could have helped the uninformed and the complicit confront their biases by doing their job.
Relatives of missing at Pesh today with hopes. Heart wrenching stories heard/scenes witnessed. Cried & begged state 2 tel if their loved ones were dead r alive. Pledging loyalty, they demanded motherly treatment from state & treatment according to Law. #PashtunLongMarch2Peshawar pic.twitter.com/p47ekfqpuw
— Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM)/پښتون ژغورنې غورځنګ (@PashtunTM_Offi) April 8, 2018
Pakistanis in Balochistan, KP and FATA live with enforced disappearances, military’s intrusive presence in their regions, extrajudicial killings, terrorism, extreme profiling and surveillance. Stuck between the military and militants, they are the excluded citizens.
They want return of their loved ones, also demanding fair trial, saying punish them if they are found guilty, but don’t punish us with their absence, we are orphans of this terror of #enforceddisappearances #TerrorOfWar pic.twitter.com/ljJFdyqTOX
— Ali Arqam (@aliarqam) April 8, 2018
This rally had a significant participation from the families of victims of enforced disappearances from FATA, Balochistan and KP. No one can look at the photos of families of the disappeared and not be moved. This was the first most vocal public platform provided to the affected. Stories emerging from the rally are some of staggering pain and courage – daughters looking for their fathers, wives for husbands, parents for sons.
— Justice For Pashtuns (@justice4pashtun) April 8, 2018
There has not been enough reporting on the state caused deprivation of the people of aforementioned regions. Reasons vary from inherent biases of the media, callousness in the newsrooms, censorship & refraining from the fate same as Geo TV, i.e. getting blocked by the cable wallahs. However, now PTM had given the press an opening to finally focus on those who have suffered the most since 2001. They did all the work, the press had to merely show up and do their job.
“Our demands have not been met. Many people still missing. We will continue our struggle till the last missing person comes home. We will go to every village and city to convey our message of peace and love to the people”. @manzoorpashteen #PashtunLongMarch2Peshawar https://t.co/VKLerrr1LC
— Rafiullah Kakar (@rafiullahkakar) April 8, 2018
My father is in the Army custody I left education in class 5th my brother left his education in class 7th a little girl came from Bajawar to attend #PashtunLongMarch2Peshawar
She hopes for her father’s release & to complete education
????@MaryamNSharif @ImranKhanPTI pic.twitter.com/YmVsugyS8n
— SAEED NAWAB (@SAEEDLEEDS) April 8, 2018
And if there ever were a day to be grateful for Twitter and Facebook, it would be April 8. Despite reports of network interruptions there were regular updates by the attendees on social networks which became primary and only source of information dissemination.
Apart from what has been already highlighted, one of the most significant contributions of the #PashtunTahaffuzMovement is constitutional literacy for the attendees. At #PashtunLongMarch2Peshawar today, @mjdawar emphasised on importance of the constitutional right of due process.
— Usama Khilji (@UsamaKhilji) April 8, 2018
We brought Rao Anwar to court. Next is Ihsan Ullah Ihsan. After him is Gen Musharaf says Manzoor Pashteen
— Saleem (@memzarma) April 8, 2018
Twitter did create its share of obstacles though. This time, the organised cyber army of misogynist trolls did not use the hashtags they have been using for the past few weeks to further their smear campaign, but used the rally’s hashtag — #PashtunLongMarch2Peshawar — to discredit PTM and implied that it was manipulated by the Afghans and was working on anti Pakistan agendas.
It is safe to say that the said smearing is being done by xenophobes and warmongers as PTM is an anti-war movement.