During the two-week News Hunt that HuffPost Eyes & Ears ran in partnership with NewsTurst and that ended this past Sunday, a Pakistani Taliban leaders was killed by U.S. drone planes, the Pakistani Supreme Court ruled against former President Pervez Musharraf, a group of Muslims leveled an attack on Christians in Gojra, and hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis moved back home to the Swat Valley. There were uncertainties and conjecture in the stories written on each of these events, fuzzy areas that NewsTrust helped bring into focus.
Over 100 HuffPosters joined the Pakistan News Hunt, helping to submit 169 stories on Pakistan, 68 of which were reviewed by more than three individuals to earn a NewsTurst rating. Of these, 52 were news stories and 16 were opinions (full list of top rated stories).
The good folks at NewsTrust have written a review of the top stories from the fortnight of news on Pakistan:
Mehsud Reported Killed
The reported killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud by U.S. drone planes on Aug. 5th was widely covered, but some disputed his death. In the last few days of our News Hunt, news media were still unsure. The New York Times, quoting several anonymous sources, wrote that (NT reviews) Pakistani and U.S. officials were "increasingly convinced" of his
death, but said it could be weeks before they received confirmation. ProPakistan rounded up (NT reviews) news stories on the assassination and offered some background on Mehsud, saying his death would be a "coup for Washington." As of today, several publications continued to report uncertainty on this event.
Mehsud's death drew swift reaction from Pakistani blogs. Kalsoom Lakhani of Changing Up Pakistan wrote (NT reviews) that while, if confirmed, it would have a "marginal effect" on the
Taliban, it "still represents a pretty hefty symbolic victory for
Pakistan. In a war of perceptions, such a fact is significant." Sana
Saleem rejoiced (NT reviews) on Mystified Justice. "Baitullah Mehsud's death can be considered a significant blow but not a definite one," she wrote. "Now that Baitullah is no more the end seems more realistic and attainable."
• Taliban leader reportedly killed in strike - New York Times
• Separated at birth - Dawn
• Baitullah Mehsud killed in drone strike - Pro-Pakistan
Attacks on Gojra Christians
The city of Gojra, Pakistan, was left smoldering at the beginning of the month,
when thousands of Muslims attacked a Christian neighborhood after hearing rumors that a Qu'ran had been defiled. The mob killed seven Christians, injured others and destroyed hundreds of houses in a wave of violence that lasted about eight hours. The attacks were condemned within Pakistan and around the world as Pakistani Christians shut down schools and businesses in mourning. Some of our highest rated stories involved the attacks -- our community found that several Pakistani and some U.S. sources covered the tragedy well.
• Fear and shame of Gojra - Daily Times (Pakistan)
• Condemning Gojra Riots - Global Voices
• Today, I too am a minority - Dawn
• Hate engulfs Christian minority in Pakistan - New York Times
Mixed verdict on Musharraf
In the same week as the Gojra attacks, Pakistan's high court delivered a long-awaited ruling against former President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned this time last year, facing an impeachment. The Supreme Court ruled that Musharraf's 2007 emergency powers decree -- in which Musharraf suspended the constitution -- was illegal and unconstitutional. Contrary to some expectations, the court decided not to pursue a treason trial against Musharraf, who remains in exile in London, facing possible arrest for related charges if he returns to Pakistan.
• Lessons from the lawyers' movement - Washington Post
• Supreme Court strikes down Nov 3 emergency - Dawn
• Why is Iftikhar Chaudry backing off? - Five Rupees
Return to Swat Valley
We kicked off our News Hunt by comparing stories on the return of hundreds of thousands of displaced Pakistanis to Swat Valley. Months of fighting between the Taliban and Pakistani military had driven an estimated two million or more Pakistanis from the region in what some
called one of the largest human migrations in recent history. Having quelled the violence and scattered and killed many Taliban members, the military began escorting Pakistani citizens back home. But reports on overall stability in Swat -- and the military's ability to maintain it
-- were by and large contradictory. Our top rated stories on this issue suggested that stability was temporary at best -- and at worst, an illusion.
• Taliban resume attacks in Swat Valley - Wall Street Journal
• Redefining success - Changing Up Pakistan
• As Swat exiles journey home, gunfire suggests problems may not be over - Guardian
More Pakistan Stories
Other news and opinion on other Pakistan issues also made our list of top stories. Dawn posted eight stories last week that received a NewsTrust rating of 3.5 or higher, including our top rated story of this News Hunt. In "The Taliban and Music" (NT reviews), Zubeida Mustafa, the paper's assistant editor, wrote about how the Taliban has both violently repressed music and used it as a propaganda tool. The Washington Post covered (NT reviews) how violence had impacted Pakistani business and sparked debate over whether to accept economic aid from the United States. India's Frontline ran a special report that assessed (NT reviews) U.S. influence in regional politics -- "quiet diplomacy" on the part of
the Obama Administration was proving the most effective approach, it said.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Pakistan News Hunt and to our partners at NewsTrust. I'm already looking forward to the next News Hunt.
Follow Matthew Palevsky on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mpalevsky