Pakistan censors NYT article critical of its powerful military
An opinion piece in the International New York Times criticising Pakistan’s powerful Army was censored by its local publisher on Tuesday, replaced with blank space in a country where it can be dangerous to reprimand the military.
The article by Manzoor Pashteen, the leader of a movement which calls for an end to what it says are enforced disappearances and extra-judicial murders of ethnic Pashtuns by security officials, was widely available online, however.
It was headlined “The Military Says Pashtuns Are Traitors. We Just Want Our Rights”. In it, the former veterinary student detailed how the impoverished northwest, along the Afghan border, has been “desolated” in Pakistan’s long fight with militancy. He described his group, the Pashtun Protection Movement (PTM), as “peaceful”.
“We held numerous sit-ins and protests and continued to hope that Pakistan’s leaders would try to address our concerns. Instead, they responded with intimidation and violence,” he wrote. “After every major protest, police arrests and charges PTM activists and supporters with rioting, treason or terrorism,” he continued.
He also accused the security establishment of ensuring that “almost nothing is reported about our movement in the mainstream Pakistani newspapers and television networks”.
The piece was “removed for print by our publishing alliance in Pakistan. The New York Times and its editorial staff had no role in its removal,” a note at the bottom of the empty-single column on the front page said.
The paper is printed in Pakistan by the local English-language Express Tribune, which regularly censors NYT articles.