Pashtuns: Human Rights Violations

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.

The Issue

Though the PTM was founded in May, 2014 by eight students of Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan to raise the issue of removal of landmines from Waziristan and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

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:

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:

Viewpoint

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 the 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