Unable to handle growing pressure both from International community as well as from within the country, Pakistan had to release Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, activists of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and Members of Pakistan National Assembly on September 2019. The two leaders were arrested on May 26, 2019 after the Kharqamar, North Waziristan incidece where they were holding a protest when Pakistan Army opened indiscriminate firing on unarmed protestors, killing at least 13 people and injuring many. Both leaders were charged for abetting terrorism and curfew was imposed in the region which lasted for 11 days.
There were three deaths due to starvation and lack of basic amenities like medicines, food and water during the curfew. The two MPs were subjected to physical torture by security forces during the custody and were not permitted to attend the Assembly sessions against the procedure, where the speaker issues a production order so that the arrested member can attend the assembly session to explain their side of the story. However, in Wazir and Dawar’s case, despite a demand by opposition MPs, the speaker had refused to issue such an order.
which were laid during war in North–West Pakistan, but PTM came to prominence recently when it started justice movement for Naqeebullah Mehsud, who was killed in a fake encounter by the police officer Rao Anwar in Karachi in January 2018 and the ‘movement’ had grown in stature manifolds since then. PTM had forcefully presented various demands to the Government of Pakistan. The main demands of PTM, among others were:
- Rao Anwar and other Police officers involved must be punished for the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud
- A truth and reconciliation commission must be established for all the people who were killed like Naqeebullah Mehsud in fake encounters by the security forces of Pakistan.
- The missing persons who are imprisoned at unknown places must be tried in a court of law, and forced disappearances must be stopped.
- Landmines must be removed from the Pashtun tribal areas.
- Torture and collective punishment against entire villages and tribes in the Pashtun tribal areas must be stopped.
- The humiliation of locals at Army checkpoints in the Pashtun areas must end.
Movement gathers momentum
As the crackdown and grave abuses against the ethnic Pashtun were increasing, so was the resolve of the PTM to fight for their security rights and demand the accountability of Pakistan Government for the killing, arrests, torture, forced into hidings or disappearances of their leaders and activists. PTM has vigorously pursued the movement for the justice against the violation of the human rights of Pashtun and organised large number of protests and marches, even in the foreign countries and succeeded in bringing the atrocities by Pakistan security forces at the international level. Some major protests and rallies which had attracted the attention of world community are:
- February 20, 2018. PTM organised a rally at InayatKalay in Khaar, Bajaur, attended by thousands of people, to condemn the killing of a 22 year old student Ahmad Shah in Karachi, who had migrated from Bajaur to Karachi to pursue higher studies. He was allegedly abducted on February 15, 2018 and killed by Karachi Police. During his address at the gathering, Manzoor Pashteen, a PTM leader resolved that ” PTM would not keep silence over the murder of Pashtuns”.
- March 2, 2018. In another rally which was held at Mirali, North Waziristan to demand abolition of infamous Frontier Crimes Regulations from Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Manzoor Pashteen addressed the gathering and said “We need to remove the sense of fear prevailing in the tribal areas and encourage the people to break their long silence and stand up for their rights.”
- March11, 2018. PTM had organised a huge rally at Quetta post culmination of a long protest march from March9-11, 2018, which attended by leaders from various political parties in Pakistan to demand constitutional rights for Pashtun and justice for Naqeebullah Mehsud
- April 8, 2018. A rally, attended by approximately 60,000 people, was organised at Peshawar to raise their voices against abduction of Pashtuns. Many protesters were holdings the photographs of their missing family members.
- April 22, 2018. A rally of approximately 8000 people was organised in Lahore to press their demands. It was after this rally that Corps Commander Peshawar accepted that demands of PTM are genuine and agreed for talks.
- May 13,2018, In spite of efforts by the Government of Pakistan to sabotage the proposed rally in Karachi by not permitting the proposed venue of the rally and cancellation of air tickets of their leader, Manzoor Pashteen , rally was held in Karachi and issues of human right violations were raised.
- July 15, 2018, Thousands of people attended a public rally at Dera Ismail Khan, where old demands were reiterated. Also the bombing in Mastung and Bannu where about 154 people were killed and 223 people were injured, was condemned.
- October 28, 2018. In one of the largest rally in Bannu where approximately 60,000 people had attended the rally to protest for immediate recovery of Tahir Dawar, a Police officer and Pashtun poet abducted on October 26, 2018. However, dead body of Tahir Dawar was later recovered.
- January 5, 2019. In one of the major rally on foreign land was held in Cologne city of Germany which was attended by people from various European countries and reiterated their demands of justice for Naqeebullah Mehsud, forced disappearances and banning of Pashtuns to travel abroad.
- Januay 20, 2019, The Manzoor Pashteen and Mohsin Dawar, organized a public rally in the Khaisor village in North Waziristan to protest against the Khaisor incident where on January 18, 2019, a 13 year old boy Hayat Khan, in a video claimed that Pakistan Army had abducted his brother and father. He also claimed that Army had been harassing his mother since then.
- Protests and rallies at Bamyan in Afghanistan on February 14, 2019 and at Wanna in North Waziristan on March 15, 2019 condemned the extrajudicial killing of PTM leader, Arman Loni.
- April 14, 2019, A large rally was held in Miramshah, capital of North Waziristan on April14, 2019 where the protesters including women and children demanded recovery of their missing relatives. The protesters also demanded that the construction of Kurram Tangi Dam on the Kurram River in North Waziristan fearing displacement due to flooding of large area, should be stopprd.
- July 1, 2019, PTM supporters had finally knocked the doors of United Nation against the human rights violations by the Pakistan Army and organised protest in front of UN office in Geneva on July 1,2019. The protesters demanded international probe into the Kharqamar incident.
A movement which was started by only ten people to raise the very basic human right issues including removal of landmines causing unnatural deaths has grown out of proportion within very short period of time. Instead of resolving the issues politically, Pakistan, in fact Pakistan Army resorted to their traditional stance of muzzling the voice of dissents through brute force. It appears that Pakistan has not learnt from the mistakes it had committed in the past when it had to undergo the agony of dismemberment of Pakistan resulting in independence of Bangladesh in 1971. Pakistan has ‘exploited’ the areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to shelter terrorists including Taliban to fight in Afghanistan and domestic war on terrorism. The army operations and militant violence has resulted in killing of thousands of civilians and displacement of millions of Pashtun. Despite of ever increasing clampdown by Army, the movement is gathering momentum and gaining acceptance and recognition both at national as well as at international level with each passing day. Pakistan needs to expolre the political solution rather than resolving the issue by force, the result of which may have irrevocable consequences.
25 Sep 19/Wednesday Written by Fayaz