The Pakistani Taliban have threatened journalists over the torrent of negative media coverage the group received after they attempted to assassinate a 14-year-old schoolgirl named Malala Yousufzai.
Several Pakistani and international news organizations have required extra security precautions after they received threats from militants that one news executive stated were “specific” and directed against named individuals, reports The Guardian.
A journalist in the region of Swat, where the Malala Yousufzai shooting took place, has even been given a guard of police after they received a written warning that said police had “credible information that you are on the hit list of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat.”
Coverage of Malala’s attempted killing, which the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have taken credit for, has been unrelenting. Rana Jawad, Islamabad bureau chief at Geo News, stated, “Undoubtedly this is the worst press the TTP has ever had, there is no doubt.”
Jawad added that he believes Pakistani media coverage of the shooting has been “sustained, purposeful, and focused.” Jawad explained that the Taliban-related organization demanded that news organizations provide “balanced” coverage since the first day after the shooting, meaning that they wanted the media to give prominence to the Taliban’s justification for the attack on the 14-year-old girl.
The Daily Beast notes that the attack by the Pakistani Taliban on Malala Yousufzai has provoked massive public outrage in Pakistan and Afghanistan, even with people who have sympathized with the militants in the past. Mullah Yahya, who was a high-ranking Afghan Information Ministry official back in the 1990s, stated:
“First of all, attempting to kill a 14-year-old girl is a low act. Second, claiming responsibility for it is a sign that the [Pakistani] Taliban are not aware of the media’s importance. I have seen more anger against the religious elements in the past week than in all my 40 years of life.”
Roman Malik, Pakistan’s interior minister, stated that the government has posted a $1 million bounty on the Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, who has claimed responsibility for the shooting of Yousufzai.
Pakistani Taliban commander, Jihad Yar has argued that death threats against the media are justified, because “99 percent” of the reporters on the story are simply using the shooting as an excuse to attack the Taliban. Yar stateD:
“For days and days, coverage of the Malala case has shown clearly that the Pakistani and international media are biased. The Taliban cannot tolerate biased media.”
Along with saying that the threats against media are just, Jihad Yar also doesn’t apologize for the attempted assassination of Malala Yousufzai, saying, “We have no regrets about what happened to Malala. She was going to become a symbol of Western ideas, and the decision to eliminate her was correct.”