The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Monday expressed alarm over the “use of military force causing deaths of at least three Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activists” in North Waziristan and called for a parliamentary commission to be “set up immediately” to inquire into the matter and “establish the truth”.
On Sunday, following reports of violence during a protest in North Waziristan, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) had released a statement saying that a check post in the area was assaulted by a group and in an exchange of fire, three people were killed while 15 were injured ─ including five soldiers. According to the statement by the Army’s media wing, MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir ─ both of whom are leaders of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) ─ were leading the group.
The ISPR had added that Wazir along with eight individuals were arrested while Mohsin Javed [Dawar] was “at large”.
MNA Mohsin Dawar, while speaking to VOA Deewa, had denied that the group opened fire and accused the Army of initiating violence.
A statement issued by HRCP chairperson Dr Mehdi Hasan on Monday also called for the release of MNA Ali Wazir and other “activists” that were taken into custody.
“HCRP believes that this will further escalate tensions between PTM supporters and security institutions, consequently leading to a permanent wedge between the people of tribal districts and the state.”
“This will be detrimental to the interests of the country and its citizens,” the statement added.
“There must be a serious attempt to genuinely address the grievances of the local population, which the PTM has been articulating peacefully for well over a year,” the statement read.
Additionally, the HRCP said that with the passage of the 26th Constitution Amendment Bill, the state “must ensure” that media and the civil society have independent access to erstwhile Fata.
“The country’s mainstream media must also understand its responsibility to report on this region fairly,” they added.
Violence in North Waziristan
The ISPR statement on Sunday said: “A group led by Mohsin Javed [Dawar] and Ali Wazir assaulted Kharqamar check post, Boyya, North Waziristan tribal district this morning. They wanted to exert pressure for release of suspected terrorists’ facilitator arrested the other day.”
“Troops at the check post exercised maximum restraint in the face of provocation and direct firing on the post. Due to firing of the group, five Army soldiers got injured. In exchange of fire, three individuals who attacked the post lost their lives and 10 got injured,” it said.
All injured were shifted to Army Hospital for treatment, said the ISPR statement.
The PTM leadership, however, denied opening fire at the check post.
Fazl Khan, a core committee member of PTM, said that the protesters were unarmed and innocent. “How can they reach Waziristan with arms when there is a check post at every kilometre?” Khan asked.
Reports of violence during a sit-in had started making rounds on Sunday morning. PTM sources had told Dawn.com that at least 20 people were injured after violence erupted during a sit-in being held in North Waziristan’s Doga Macha Madakhel area.
The sit-in staged by residents of the area against the alleged assault on a local woman began on Saturday and was joined by workers of the PTM today. Sources within the PTM said the protest was calm until MNAs Dawar and Wazir reached the area to participate in the sit-in.
Upon their arrival, protesters began sloganeering and the situation turned tense. Unidentified individuals opened fire on the crowd of protesters, PTM sources told Dawn.com, after which Wazir was taken into custody and Dawar received a minor hand injury.
As local news outlets reported that a clash had taken place between law enforcement agencies and the PTM protesters, unverified visuals of the protest and ensuing violence started circulating on social media.
A curfew was imposed in North Waziristan following the incident, and landline, internet and cellphone services have all been suspended, PTM and local sources told Dawn.com.