Information Warfare: Be Good Or Be Dead

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August 4, 2011: The Pakistani Taliban recently issued a public warning to journalists who publish material critical of the Taliban. Those who do not comply will not be allowed into Taliban controlled (or influenced) territory. The Taliban also threatens to punish repeat offenders. This could include a beating, kidnapping or death. All these restrictions have long been implied, but over the last few years, the Taliban have become more unpopular. That's mainly because the Taliban have become associated with a growing number of terror attacks, and lots of dead civilians. Moreover, the Taliban has been expanding, and has recently increased its cooperation with Pushtun gangs outside the tribal territories, particularly in the nation's largest city; Karachi. There, months of religious and political violence has left hundreds dead. The Taliban has participated in this, and journalists have been reporting on the Taliban connection.

Journalism is a dangerous profession in Pakistan. Many powerful people act like the Taliban when they attract too much unfavorable press. But the Taliban are known to be particularly violent and uncompromising when they feel they have been wronged. The Taliban are particularly dangerous just now because they are broke, and cannot bribe journalists, or at least not as many as they used to. This is useful when dealing with journalists who are in areas the Taliban have a hard time reaching, or going after reporters who are protected by other Islamic radical groups.

The Taliban are implying that they are seeking some wayward journalists to make an example of, which puts additional pressure on reporters seeking to put out accurate news of what the Taliban are doing. The Taliban are also looking to chase all journalists out of North Waziristan, their last refuge (which the army won't enter) in the tribal territories. The American CIA UAVs do enter North Waziristan regularly, and the Taliban believe the journalists provide target information for these missile armed UAVs, either intentionally or otherwise.

 


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