Prisoners Of Conscience: Hold Talks With Those Demanding Constitutional Rights

Prisoners Of Conscience: Hold Talks With Those Demanding Constitutional Rights
The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) has been demanding fundamental rights for the community for the last one-and-half year. Its demands are within the constitutional parameters and as per the law of the land. However, despite this fact, the PTM supporters are the target and many of them, mainly youngsters, have been arrested.

And now, the core leadership is behind the bars on cooked up charges. The boundary walls of their houses were transgressed and their family members were harassed. One remain astound after hearing the accounts of these raids. Calling it an utter violation of the state's law won't be wrong. As in pursuit of their own interests, the authorities are torturing innocents.

The list of imprisoned PTM supporters includes all the prominent figures like Ali Wazir, Mohsin Dawar, Abdullah Nangyal, Alamzaib Mehsud, Idrees Pashteen, Bilal and others. Except the two MNAs, the rest are youngsters in their early twenties and their families are suffering from utmost mental trauma. 

While interacting with Abdul Qayyum, who is brother of Alamzaib Mehsud, he shared his mother's reaction to the news of Alamzaib's arrest. Since the arrest, she rarely speaks but whenever she does, she talks about her son, Alamzaib. For the last five months, the only question she asks is about Alamzaib's health.

Then comes the Kharqamar incident, where hundreds of innocent civilians were attacked, resulting in 13 deaths. Instead of sympathising with the victims and accepting the mistake, the authorities started conducting raids against the PTM workers.

On the top of it, the two independent parliamentarians, Ali and Mohsin, are booked for standing by their people. They went to Kharqamar to participate in the then ongoing sit-in which was against the atrocious treatment of locals. After Ali's arrest, her mother requested all the political parties to unite against the antidemocratic forces and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with PTM in the struggle against the oppressor.

We need to realise that all these people imprisoned for being vocal about their rights enshrined in the constitution are prisoners of conscience. They can avoid these sufferings by compromising on principles, but they are averse to such idea. Thus, they are still behind the bars. 

The outcome of wholesale arrests of people belonging to a certain community or specific school of thought will poison the atmosphere further. More hate will make room in the minds of youngsters and rift them away from the idea of nonviolence. It can even compel them to opt for uncalled for ways to protest against the atrocities.

The solution is to release all the PTM members and hold dialogue. So far what we saw indicates a non-serious approach on the part of the state to address their grievances. A committee comprising of people having moral standing and character should be assigned with the job to negotiate with PTM so that the void between the people and the state could be bridged. Otherwise the ongoing crackdown will only increase the number of 'prisoners of conscience'.