Aamir Ayub

Pashtun is one of the oldest tribes of the world. People know them as “Pashtun” or “Pathan”. They are known for their hospitality, bravery, friendships, and loyalty. Pashtun primarily live in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Majority of them are living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. It is considered to be the largest Muslim society in the world. They are important because of their significant Diaspora in Arab golf and other western countries. Pashtun had been portrayed in different eras by media and still is depicting with time going. If we talk about the books, this tribe is there in literature. If we take out the archives of newspapers it will be there, if we study about the civilizations we will find Pashtun in 3000BCE.

Pashtun also known as Pathan; Pathan means the wooden base of ship that saves it from sinking in water. That is why they are known as the nation of words. If we look into the history Pathan has been portrayed in a very positive way in all over world by national and international media, in movies or reports. Pashtun worriers are the loyal and brave conquerors in the history and have been depicted in a very positive way. They were friendly, loyal, loving, men of words and brave but after the incident of 9/11 the scenario got change and turn into an opposite image. The image of “Taliban” has been linked directly to a terrorist. Pashtun lost their identity, loyalty, trust, hospitality, and bravery.

International media present Talib as terrorist and Talib was actually pictured with the image of Pashtun. The title of this article Talib and Pashtun basically will clear the representation of tribe and pupils in that tribe and will analyze how media portrayed Pashtun and linked this Arabic word “Talib” which means a Student, to terrorist. Also this article will identify the images of Pashtun used by national and International media even to support them, media actually reflect guns and terror. The information related to a terrorist’s picture has been injected in the minds; if we ask a kid to draw a picture of terrorist that kid will draw a picture that will have all the traditional reflection of a Pashtun, and that is what media shows to the world.

After 9/11 incident Pashtun are targeted as a terrorist and they had to proof their identity and peacefulness everywhere. Their image has been associated to the terrorist as everyone took side from them felt terror and fear when saw a man wearing turbine and having beard putting on Shalwar qameez. International media due to the stay of Osama Bin Ladin in Afghanistan and setting up the students of minor age for the cause of terrorism used the name TALIBAN for the terrorist group.

As it was declared with Al-Qaida that was first a school of thought and then after Osama Bin Ladin came on ground against America it took a shape of radical group. Talib is a word of Arabic language which means Student and student can be a Pashtun, it can be a Pakistani, it can be an American or it can be from New Zealand. But what has been portrayed in the every image of terrorist an image of Pashtun, a dress of Pashtun Culture and tradition, a name Talib that is used in Pashto language frequently, and repeated in the media. By triggering again and again people thought a terrorist will look like Talib and Talib is Pashtun, crossing this Pashtun lost their identities even in their own countries.

On the other side a terrorist Brinton Tarrant attacked on the Muslims at New Zealand in mosques and came live on social media while killing them brutally. The Picture came on the BBC website showing just his guns not the image of Brinton who killed the Muslims with no mercy. (New Zealand mosque shooting: What is known about suspect?( 18 March 2019, BBC News). If we look on the other side the Title Picture of an article on BBC Website, where a number of people are present having Guns that clearly reflect the Pashtun dresses, Culture and traditions; the article written under this picture is in favor of pashtun people and describing the Talib and terrorists.

Most of the people will just see the picture and they will avoid reaching to the content because of fear and terror. If the Tarrant’s Pictures also had been published on the same site where the positive news about Pashtun had a negative Picture, then the concept of most of the people regarding a student association with terrorist and an image having turbine, beard and shalwar qameez; linked to a terrorist would be cleared. There could be a dangerous spin-off in Pakistan itself. The Pashtuns have spread across the border into Pakistan, and the ideas and teachings of the Taleban have also been allowed to spread over that border to the madrassas, the religious schools. (BBC NEWS, Saturday, 13th of October, 2001 – living in exile)

On the other side in different Pakistani dramas and movie it has been noticed that Pashtuns are stereotyped in a funny or violent way. “I remember conversing with one of the co-producers of Shoaib Mansoor’s rape survivor film Verna. At one point in the conversation, I complained about how the director has continuously from Khuda Kay Liye to Bol and Verna, portrayed Pashtuns in a stereotypically negative way. The co-producer responded that people identify more with characters when they are shown in more conventional (read stereotypical) ways than those which are relatively unknown to them.” (Hassan Hassan – August 15, 2020 – The Case of Ethnic Stereotyping In Pakistani Films and Dramas)

On the other side if we look at the dramas on-aired on Pakistani private TV channels; How they showed Pashtun, in a very negative way. For presenting Pashtun character they change the accent of actor’s Urdu speaking, give them a violent look with gun and loud tone. In a recent drama “Meray Hamnasheen” on Geo Entertainment we can notice it clearly.

If we talk about the Comedy side, a very famous series on ARY Digital “Bulbuly” has a special character named “Sher Khan” who is a Pathan. Within the comedy he is always associated with warning people and gun in his pocket. A dialogue used by him is “Hum tum ko goli maar dega” means I will shoot you.

Not even presenting in a violent way some dramas had digged out the old customs those are not even exist now in modern time nor the young generations have any idea about that. In a very famous drama of HUM Tv “Sang E Mah” the process of “Ghag” has been shown. This was basically a process performed by a boy if he is in love with a girl and facing problem in getting her, so he used to go and fire with a gun in front of her house for making people aware of what he wants. This process doesn’t exist even but the audience who will watch it they will think Pashtun still do these activities.

Unfortunately the images injected, profiling of Pathan in a way that everyone in their own countries feels fear from them. This article has a purpose to look at every terrorism incident in the world and their facilitator they will look different, they will be from different nations, their complexity will be different, their languages will be different, they will not be a Talib from all school of thought. “Talib” an Arabic word used in Pashto and Urdu too; means a student, its explanation is the person who has need of knowledge. The title here indicates Talib and Pashtun and it is concluded that, Nether every Talib is Pashtun nor every Pashtun is Talib. Same Every Talib cannot be a terrorist some become Scientists, some engineers, some doctors, some artists and some soldiers who finishes the terrorists. A Talib ends the terrorism if he kills the Talib, a moment of thinking and getting the things to protect the image of Pashtun and get back their identity.

The author is a researcher of media and communication
Email: aamirayub@uop.edu.pk