Is Pakistan censoring media coverage of TTP attacks and casualties?

The pace of the attacks by the Tehreek-E-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistan Taliban, has increased drastically in the last few weeks

Sep 15, 2021
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TTP attacks and casualties

The pace of the attacks by the Tehreek-E-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistan Taliban, has increased drastically in the last few weeks. However, it appears that  authorities in Pakistan have lately started censoring media coverage of these attacks and casualties. 

The last attack that the ISPR, the media wing of the Pakistan Military, had acknowledged was on Thursday in Balochistan where two soldiers were killed. However, the military didn’t make any statement on two attacks which according to local journalists and experts took place on Monday and Tuesday this week. 

Significantly, neither of the two attacks were reported in mainstream media in Pakistan. 

According to Daud Khattak, a local journalist who covers Pakistan for Radio Liberty, reported that the TTP claimed a suicide attack on Monday and another ambush on Tuesday, both in South Waziristan, a tribal mountainous region on the country’s northwest. At least seven soldiers were killed in these attacks. 

Afrasiab Khattak, a human rights activist and politician from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, also confirmed these attacks, and tweeted, “Pak mainstream media isn’t reporting and no word from the govt as they are hiding the fact that Talibanization is cancer that spreads.”

Madiha Afzal, an expert on Pakistan and fellow at Washington DC-based think tank, Brookings Institute, also tweeted, pointing out the media blackout of these attacks. 

Another local journalist, Ihsahullah Tipu Mehsud, who covers the region for the New York Times, confirmed these attacks in a tweet where he reported intense clashes between the Pakistan Army and TTP in Ladha Tehsil of South Waziristan region since Monday. 

In the last ten days, the TTP mounted at least five attacks on security forces, killing at least ten soldiers. The attacks intensified after the Afghan Taliban released thousands of TTP insurgents locked in Afghan jails. 

The expectation within Pakistan is that the Afghan Taliban, who took control of Afghanistan last month, would rein in the TTP which has used Afghan territory along the porous Af-Pak border to mount attacks on Pakistan security forces. However, for the Afghan Taliban--which shares ideological and tactical ties with the TTP-- breaking off these ties won’t be easy. 

The only general assurance that the Afghan Taliban gave is that they won’t let anyone use Afghan soil to mount attacks on other countries. Amir Khan Mutaqqi, the Taliban-appointed Foreign Minister, said on Tuesday, “We have pledged that the territory of Afghanistan  will not be used against any country and we adhere to the commitment.” 

(SAM) 

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