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Pakistani Newspaper Dawn's Taliban-Sized Typo is Shared Widely

Dawn, a leading newspaper in Pakistan made a glaring error on the front page of its print edition by confusing the banned militant outfit Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's popular party Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI).

The newspaper of repute called Taliban chief Hakeemullah Mehsud, who was recently killed in a US drone strike, a “ruthless PTI leader,” instead of a “ruthless TTP leader” in an article titled “Hassan asked to tender apology”. 

Snapshots of the front page acronym mix-up were widely shared on Facebook and Twitter with social media users questioning whether the typo was a genuine mistake or a Freudian slip? Yasser Hashmi (@YasserHashmi), an assistant professor at LUMS, a top university in Pakistan, tweeted:

Broadcast journalist Arshad Sharif (@arsched) grabbed an image of the front page and tweeted:

Photograph of front page article by author Annie Zaman.

Close-up of the mixup highlighted by @FaizanLakhani

PTI leader Imran Khan is a strong opponent of US drone strikes which has earned him the label Taliban Khan from his critics. Following Hakeemullah's killing, Khan condemned the drone attack saying it sabotaged government-planned peace talks with the TTP.

Dawn promptly issued a correction and apology in an online version of the article, but not before PTI supporters on Pakistan's social media questioned whether there was something sinister behind the typo.

PTI's chief spokesperson Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) tweeted:

Abbas Nasir (@abbasnasir59), a prominent journalist and former editor of Dawn responded:

PTI's social media wing head and Global Voices author Awab Alvi (@DrAwab) asked for a public apology by Dawn:

Adil Ansari(@AnsariAdil), PTI's Twitter head added:

PTI is popular with young urban Pakistanis and the party has created a strong and loyal following on social media. Pakistani Twitter users critical of Imran Khan and his party often accuse PTI supporters of relentlessly trolling them. Omar Quraishi (@omar_quraishi), opinion editor of the Express Tribune said:

Some leading journalists empathized with the staff at Dawn for the error that was later mentioned at the National Assembly by PTI's leader Imran Khan.

Jahanzaib Haque (@jhaque_), the web editor of Express Tribune tweeted:

His colleague, Gibran Pashiman (@gibranp), a 2013 Reuters fellow adds:

Abid Hussayn (@abidhussayn) of Herald, Dawn's monthly magazine, hopes that no one is sacked but appreciates the slip:

Some political activists on Twitter enjoyed the error like Assad Zulfiqar (@pseudorebel) of Pakistan Peoples Party, who complimented the article's author:

Adnan Rasool (@adnanrasool), a political science student based in Atlanta, USA tweeted:

The PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (@BBhuttoZardari), who has been very active on Twitter with witty comments, since his party joined opposition ranks after May's election, sent a tweet to one of Dawn's editors:

The Dawn article with the Taliban-sized typo was about the head of Pakistan's leading Islamist party Jamat-e-Islami Munawar Hassan asserting on a popular TV news channel that deceased Taliban chief Hakimullah should be considered a shaheed or Islamic “martyr,” with a secure place in heaven, for dying at the hands of America.

Since Pakistani soldiers, thousands of whom have died at the hands of the Taliban, are considered shaheed, Hassan's comment caught the ire of many including the country's most powerful institution, the army. The article contained an official comment from the Pakistan army asking the Islamist party leader for an unconditional apology to the country and the families of martyred servicemen who've been fighting  the Taliban and Al-Qaeda network since 2004.

The Islamist party, which has traditionally been a strong ally of the Pakistan army, has distanced itself from Hassan's statement saying their chief was airing his personal opinion on live TV.

UPDATE: Dawn published a front-page apology and correction for the “inadvertent mistake” in its November 12, 2013 print edition.

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