In a seemingly organized campaign to show the slain Baloch leader Dr Manan’s affiliation with militancy, his photoshoped images are being widely shared on social media by mostly anonymous handles.
The Baloch National Movement (BNM), Dr Manan’s political party which claims to be struggling for an independent Balochistan through peaceful means, has also registered a complaint with the BBC headquarters in London against a news report carried by its Urdu station in which Dr Manan was dubbed as a militant and the BNM as a banned group.
“The BNM is not banned. It’s true that Pakistan is killing our leaders and members as if we are a terrorist organization, but they never officially banned us. It’s a factual error in the report. And then they called Dr Manan and his comrades martyred in the military raid as militants, which is totally wrong,” said BNM’s Foreign Secretary Hammal Haider Baloch, who is based in London.
He said Pakistan was trying to dub the BNM as a militant group through propaganda tactics. “Dr Manan and his friends were unarmed. They were shot at point-blank range,” he added.
Dr Manan was serving as BNM’s Secretary General, the second highest rank in the party, when he was killed in military raid in a house in Balochistan’s Mastung area on January 30 along with four other companions.
Baloch social media activists are trying to counter what they call “Pakistani propaganda” by posting real images of Dr Manan in comparison with the photoshoped images. In one edited image, Dr Manan is seen in the back of a pick-up truck with masked men carrying heavy weaponry, while the real image posted by Baloch activists shows him sitting on a rock inside a river with another man.
In another photoshoped photo, the slain BNM leader is carrying an AK-47 and wearing a bullet vest. However, the real picture is that of Akhtar Nadeem, a militant commander of the Balochistan Liberation Front.
Dr Manan’s party is carrying out protests in several European and North American countries to raise awareness about the military crackdown on their party and human rights abuses in Balochistan.
On January 31, BNM members burnt Pakistani flags and raised slogans for a free Balochistan. According to a party statement, protests will be held in London on January 4 and Germany in January 6.
The party cannot openly hold demonstrations in Balochistan for fear of military retribution. However, several cities in Balochistan remained shut after a three-day strike call by the BNM to protest its leader’s murder.
Sajid Hussain (1981-2020) was a writer and senior journalist from Balochistan. He had a degree in Economics, International Relations and English Literature from Karachi University. He had the experience of working with Pakistani newspapers Daily Times and The News International. Sajid Hussain was also the founding editor of this online magazine.