An opinion piece in the International New York Times criticizing Pakistan’s powerful army was censored by its local publisher on Tuesday, replaced by a 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 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.