It has been more than a week now that Pashtuns from all over Pakistan are striving in a sit-in outside National Press Club Islamabad, for their voices to be heard.
The sit-in which started as a movement for providing justice to a victim of extra-judicial killing, Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud, has quickly acquired broad and multiple dimensions and has also garnered international attention.
Organized by youth leaders from FATA, the nature of the sit-in is organic. Bereft of any involvement of interest driven politicos or troublemaking foreign factors, the sit-in signifies the pent-up frustrations of Pashtuns accumulated over the years as a consequence of injustices endured at the hands of, more or less, the Pakistani state.
Up till now, the approach of the sit-in protesters has been non-violent, and their conduct, highly civilized and unprecedented in the history of Pakistan.
The demands of the sit-in are also legal and legitimate, clear and constitutional.
The participators of the sit-in demand the arrest and punishment of Rao Anwar and others involved in NaqeebullahMehsud’s killing, they also demand the release of “missing persons” from FATA and the removal of land mines from Waziristan.
But since the inception of the sit-in, no Pakistani media outlet has even dared to cover a bit of it. Every media outlet has exercised disinterest, and has abstained from providing coverage to the sit-in.
Ironically, Indian media has shown more interest in the sit-in as compared to Pakistani media, and has also attempted to give the sit-in anti-Pakistan dimensions, which raises serious questions about the priorities of the so-called free Pakistani media.
Prior to this sit-in, the Pakistani media has provided 24/7 coverage to orchestrated and politically motivated sit-ins bent on violence and instability e.g. the Khadim Hussain led Faizabad Fiasco. And it is beyond comprehension why the Pakistani media is shying away from providing coverage to a genuine demonstration now.
The abysmal apathy shown towards the Pashtun sit-in by the Pakistani media gives the impression that the Pakistani media is not at all interested in broadcasting and propagating genuine interests and issues of the populace.
Moreover, this act of abandonment begs to be used as a logic by ill willed elements for enticing Pashtuns of an already polarised and terror-ridden region towards further extremism.