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PESHAWAR: Enraged by widespread media coverage of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani Taliban led by Hakimullah Mehsud reportedly planned to target media organisations, particularly television channels and some journalists in the country, well-placed sources revealed yesterday.
According to sources, the Taliban felt that the media has become biased against them and was giving ‘undue’ coverage to the attack on Malala and portraying them as the worst people on earth.
The militants were reported to have held meetings and decided to suspend all their current operations and activities in the country and directed field commanders and fighters to divert their attention towards media organisations instead of the government and security forces.
In this regard, the sources said, the militants had selected 12 suicide bombers and tasked them to target media organisations, particularly the electronic media and some foreign media organisations and their workers, in Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi and wherever they found them.
“The suicide bombers have particularly been directed to target offices, vehicles and journalists individually who had become a party and were issuing fatwas or decrees against the Taliban,” TTP sources said.
They said the Taliban had deputed people to closely monitor various media organisations, Pakistani and foreign media, after the attack on Malala to assess which media outlet was giving how much coverage to her and how the journalists remained impartial and unbiased while reporting the incident.
The sources said the militants were divided over planning to target media organisations and it was decided later that they would target those outlets, which according to the Taliban, crossed all limits in maligning the militants in their non-stop transmissions dedicated to the aftermath of the attack.
Also, the militants reportedly planned to individually target some journalists who openly spoke out in favour of the 14-year brave girl and against perpetrators of the incident and also gave an opportunity to the people to not only condemn but termed the attack on innocent Malala as against Islamic Shariah and Pakhtun culture.
The journalists in Swat said they were receiving threatening telephone calls and text messages from unknown people warning them of serious consequences for giving coverage to Malala.
After the threats to the media, security has been beefed up around offices of various media organisations while some of the journalists in Swat have been provided security to protect them from becoming victims of the Taliban’s target killers.