Islamabad: A Pakistani author’s scathing piece about the country’s army, which he describes as having a one-point “hate India” agenda, was yesterday censored by the local publisher of the international edition of The New York Times.
Instead of Mohammed Hanif’s article, titled “Pakistan’s Triangle of Hate: Taliban, Army and India”, Pakistani readers of the International New York Times confronted a blank page. A note on the blank page made sure to convey that The New York Times “had no role in its removal”.
The Express Tribune publishes the International New York Times in Pakistan. It probably didn’t want to go through what another Pakistani newspaper, Dawn, went through after it published a story last year about the squabble between the government and the military+ over how to deal with anti-India terror groups.
In a bit of unintentional irony, Hanif has in his piece criticized the Pakistan army for getting as upset it did about the Dawn story, only to have his own piece censored.
Pak army’s agenda
So what does Hanif – author of the satire ‘The Case of Exploding Mangoes’ – say in his opinion piece?
He excoriates the Pakistani army for making a repellant Pakistani Taliban man known as Ehsanullah Ehsan “a new ally in its never-ending war against India”.
Ehsan is the man who claimed responsibility for an attack in Lahore last year which killed dozens including many children. He’s also the man who claimed he shot Malala Yousafzai.
And how, according to Hanif, is Ehsan being the Pakistan Army’s ally in its “never-ending war with India”?
Hanif suggests that the country’s Army is spreading the lie that India is funding Ehsan and the Pakistani Taliban. It’s also “parading” Ehsan while he talks about his Taliban friends having multiple wives.
“The purpose seems to be to suggest that the Taliban are not a formidable force with an ideology and deep roots in Pakistani society, but rather a bunch of sexual perverts bankrolled by India. India, forever our existential enemy,” Hanif writes.
Hanif believes there is “evidence that India has funded groups to strike at Pakistan for interfering in Kashmir”. He also believes that doesn’t justify the “need to enlist our children’s killers in our campaign against India”.
The author talks about Pakistanis’ mixed feelings about the Taliban as well as the army.
“Many Pakistanis still love the army. And many politicians fear it,” writes Hanif.
To be sure, just last week, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif got rid of two close aides who were held responsible for the leak to Dawn last year. Political analysts were near unanimous in saying that the whole “investigation” into the leaks was done at the behest of the Army, which wanted to see heads roll.
That is the problematic role of the army in Pakistan.
Hanif quotes a droll saying in Pakistan, which goes something like this: Most countries have an army, but in Pakistan it’s the army that has a country.”