Downed Pakastani Reporter, Musa Khan Khel,
Slain by Taliban in Late Feb.
Slain by Taliban in Late Feb.
Pakistan was once a beacon of hope for democracy in the Muslim world, and perhaps it still is. Until very recently, it was also a country with a solidly free press. Even under military dictator Pervez Musharraf, the media enjoyed surprising freedom. And perhaps it still does, but only among journalists who possess great courage, and willingness to give their lives for the story.
The wanton neglect of foreign policy toward Pakistan by the U.S. during most of the post-9/11 era has yielded just the rotten fruit of which thoughtful diplomats, such as Former Sectys. of State Madeline Albright and Warren Christopher have warned: a failing nuclear-armed state, which threatens to be overtaken by none other than the Taliban.
The Bush administration's so-called Pakistan policy was a one-dimensional, one-dictator relationship. As Vice President Joe Biden said when he has still a senator, serving on the Foreign Relations Committee, "We don't have a Pakistan policy; we have a Musharraf policy."
Musharraf is no longer the self-appointed president/despot, but the current government, while apparently more law-abiding (although probably only nominally so) has been mostly impotent to stop the Taliban from taking over entire regions of the country. True to form, as soon as they're in, women are thrown into bondage, and journalists are killed--or at least stifled.
Here's the latest warning--not so much a story, but a direct message to any reporters trying to tell the truth in Pakistan--from Pakistan's English-language daily newspaper, The International
|Warning to journalists|
| Saturday, May 02, 2009|
The Taliban have made it clear they have every intention on clamping down on the right to express opinions – or even merely to report facts. They have warned that certain journalists were promoting western ‘propaganda’, and that if they did not refrain from doing so those publishing ‘lies’ would be tried in Qazi courts in areas controlled by the Taliban. This threat is not a hollow one. Journalists in Swat and elsewhere have complained on constant harassment and intimidation by the Taliban. Some, like Musa Khan Khel, who was shot dead in Swat in February, have apparently paid with their lives for their attempt to simply perform their duties and tell the truth as it unfolded before them. We still do not know who killed the TV reporter, and this failure to apprehend his murders or those of others who died before him surely puts others too at risk.
The Taliban, quite evidently, want to crush all freedom to voice opinions critical of them. They have made this quite clear. To do so they are willing to resort to the crudest of tactics, the worse threats possible. They must not succeed. The fact that so few are willing to speak out openly against them – in parliament, on TV talk shows, in the Urdu-language press – shows they may be winning the battle to control minds and thoughts. Citizens and authorities must act together to prevent this, for such a victory could be even more potent than any gained on the ground where territory is fought over between the militants and our armed forces.