The Pakistani Taliban have issued a fatwa against the media, declaring it a "party" to the conflict in the country, and drawn up a hit-list of journalists and publishers, a media report said on Thursday.
This is the first time since the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan's inception in 2007 that such a fatwa (edict) has been issued against the media and a hit-list of media personalities drawn up, the Dawn daily reported.
The 29-page fatwa accuses media of siding with "disbelievers" against Muslims in the "war on Islam". It alleges the media is inciting people against mujahideen through propaganda and propagating promiscuity and secularism.
The hit-list has nearly two dozen journalists and publishers. It includes several owners of media groups, news heads of television channels, prominent anchors, the editor of a leading English newspaper and some field staff, the report said.
The fatwa separates journalists into three categories -- 'murjif', 'muqatil' and 'Sa’ee bil fasad'.
"Murjif is someone who engages in propaganda against Muslims during a war between Islam and disbelief," Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, deputy chief of the banned TTP and one of the authors of the fatwa, was quoted as saying in the report.
'Muqatil' is someone who incites disbelievers and their allies to act against Muslims while the third category includes those who allegedly corrupt Muslim society through steps like replacing Islamic ideology with secular beliefs.
"The media has continuously been lying about us and about our objectives," Haqqani claimed. "It has attributed to us some attacks which we did not carry out and it continues to lie about our objectives."
The fatwa was issued in response to a question from the TTP's religious committee led by former spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan.
"For a long time, we have been asking the media to be impartial. We are not forcing it to change beliefs. We are simply asking the media to be fair in coverage," Ihsan told the Dawn.
"Despite the tall claims of truth and nothing but the truth, the media has been acting as propagandists...The job of a journalist is to be fair and tell all sides of a story."
Ihsan claimed the media "could mend its ways and become a neutral entity". He added: "Otherwise, the media should not feel secure. A few barriers and security escorts will not help. If we can get inside military installations, media offices should not be too much of a challenge."