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Analysis Democracy Human Rights

Amid Complete Media Blackout, the PTM is Still Popular and Gaining Momentum

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Pashtuns are Pakistan’s single ethnic group who have been facing discrimination and deprived of their basic rights due to the wrong and cruel policies of the state.

Many tactics which have been used to keep the Pashtuns deprived and divided, and that is the reason that they are being targeted by the dark propaganda.

If we trace this history back, the division of Pashtuns was a tactic used by the British regime to avoid any resistance and to ensure that the Pashtuns could never come together under a same banner. The British divided them into three separate areas within Pakistan – former FATA, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The same policy is being employed even now as the Pashtuns are kept divided in a planned manner to keep them suppressed.

There was a time when the Punjab and Sindh government had banned their entry. They were labelled as suspected terrorists and thousands of them were under surveillance. Many innocent Pashtuns were eliminated in fake encounters.

The extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud was the turning point for Pashtuns – an incident which encouraged and motivated them to raise their voice for their basic and fundamental rights under the banner of PTM.

This was the moment when the Pashtuns – who were deprived, beaten, discriminated and divided ideologically – united under a single banner and found a voice for their rights for the first time in the history of Pakistan, with many people terming it as a Pashtun Spring.

The PTM is a movement that emerged in response to the cruel and wrong state policies since 9/11, as the Pashtun Belt was used as a stage for this so-called war on terror with thousands of them killed in the process.

From the very beginning, the military regime of Gen Musharraf was not able to stop Taliban from creating a strong network in the tribal region. As a result, the Pashtuns are the people who solely borne the cost of this failure.

Many politicians within and outside Pakistan have termed the PTM’s demands as legal and constitutional, with the right to life and an end to the extrajudicial killings being the basic. The other two demands are: an end to forced abduction and to produce the missing persons before the courts, and removal of landmines which have taken the lives of many innocent citizens and children.

The PTM has faced many barriers and harassment issues, including the threats to one of its founding member and women rights activist Sanna Ejaz who, according to her, has been threatened to quit the movement.

Beside the support extended by the masses, even the mainstream political parties – Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Awami National Party (ANP), Balochistan National Party –Mengal (BNP-M) and more importantly the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) – have also expressed solidarity with the PTM.

Reacting on the latest incident in North Waziristan, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said, “How can an elected member attack the security check post? I don’t think it to be real.”

He added that one could disagree with the opinion of other, but the state should listen to them and address their grievances “otherwise we have seen what happened with Pakistan in 1971”.

On the other hand, Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, at an iftar gathering, said that spraying bullets on non-violent protesters was very condemnable, because protest was a fundamental right provided and protected by the constitution of Pakistan.

He added that tribal people had suffered a lot and borne the cost of war, and the state should deal with them in a peaceful way.

Later, Aimal Wali Khan of ANP said in a social media statement, “Such cruel tactics of state will make the Pashtuns more and stronger,” as he demanded immediate release of the arrested activists including Ali Wazir.

In order to show solidarity with the PTM, the PkMAP organised protests in different parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Mohsin Dawar in his article for the Washington Post had said, “The people of tribal regions have been the worst victims of the games played by the state of Pakistan. But more than 200 million Pakistani citizens stand helplessly by as our democracy, Parliament, judiciary and media are manipulated by a powerful security establishment.”

Despite the blackout in the mainstream media, the PTM is gaining momentum and getting popular among youth in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and even outside the country, which the experts term as a good and positive development, but it is an alarming thing for those pursuing the anti-Pashtun policies.



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