ptm – Dawat Media Dawat Media Thu, 18 Jun 2020 09:12:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Afrasiab Khattak says PTM must reject Pakistan’s dialogue offer Thu, 18 Jun 2020 09:11:23 +0000 Afrasiab Khattak, a Pashtun politician said Tuesday Pakistan’s offer of dialogue to Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) was aimed at weakening the movement not to resolve the long lasting issues. 

Khattak said mistrust between the Pakistani government and the PTM was high and that it was a waste of time to negotiate until the country fulfill all PTM demands.

According to Khattak, the Pakistani military had earlier offered to negotiate with the PTM, but you saw that the leader and members of the movement were arrested and detained.

Afrasiab Khattak says thousands of Pashtuns are missing. Despite the assassination of Naqibullah Mehsud, 443 more extra-judicial deaths are being sought but the killer of these innocent Pashtuns, Rao Anwar, is still free like a “white eagle”.

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Shah Faisal Afridi: An activist who fought for Pashtuns’ rights dies of COVID-19 Sun, 10 May 2020 17:11:48 +0000

A leading Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activist Shah Faisal Afridi (Afghan) died after being infected with coronavirus and fighting for his life in intensive care in a hospital in Peshawar.

He was an activist of PTM, and Human Rights defender who opposed all types of oppression and openly criticized the state of Pakistan and it’s Army for their policies and wars on the Pakhtuns land.

The doctors said that he was suffering of Coronavirus and succumbed to it after a brief battle, however, some of his friends also alleged that his death wasn’t natural and might have been killed by the Pakistan security forces for his activism for Pakhtuns nationalism and state oppression in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces.

“I don’t think Faisal Afghan’s death is natural. His death is a continuation of the ongoing Baloch, Pashtun and Sindhi genocide,” a PTM activist Mumtaz Ali Shan alleged. “How is it possible that he had not have any physical ailment, and then suddenly he died within a week of suffering from COVID-19?”

Shan further said that he was not only an activist of PTM but also a strong supporter of the oppressed Baloch and Sindhis at the hands of Pakistan’s security establishment. “We will never forget this secretive assassination,” Shan said.

Shah Faisal in his last audio message has strongly criticized the strategy of the PTM and urged that until the movement formulates a formal manifesto and set proper goals, the chances of its success will be slim.

He has said that the PTM has achieved some success due to the victims of wars and oppression but now the owner of the movement has been snatched from their hands and new people have entered into the movement.

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European Commission urged for ‘strong action’ against Pakistan for killing PTM leader, exiled journalist Thu, 07 May 2020 08:06:21 +0000

The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) has urged for a ‘strong action’ again Pakistan for its human rights violations while world is distracted with the coronavirus pandemic.

The issue was raised by fours MEPs in a letter to the European Commission after the brutal killings of a Baloch exiled Journalist Sajid Hussain and leader of Pakhtun Tahaffuz movement’ Arif Wazir allegedly by Pakistan Army’s Inter-service Intelligence (ISI) spy agency.

“It is not coincidental that the murders are taking place whilst the international community is distracted with the COVID-19 pandemic. Pakistan’s spy agency, ISI, has continued to silence human rights defenders and journalists both inside Pakistan and externally during this time,” the letter reads.

The letter has been written to the President of the commission Ursula Von der Leyen on Tuesday by for MEPs — Peter Lundgren, Bogdan Rzonca, Ryszard Czarnecki and Helmut Geuking — After the killings Pashtun leader and Baloch Journalist in Sweden.

On Friday, the 1st of May, Arif Wazir, a leader of PTM, was shot three times by unknown assailants near his home in Wanna, Waziristan. The PTM leadership said that he was killed by state-backed militants and urged the government to decimate terror ‘safe offices’ in Waziristan otherwise they will be forced to take weapons to evict them.

Sajid Hussain was an exiled Baloch journalist. Besides raising voice for the rights of Baloch people, he was the first to write against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,  the Pakistani leg of China’s Belt and Road Initiative that cuts through Balochistan. He wrote about it in prominent international publications and also co-authored articles on it with foreign journalists.

The letter reads:  “As Members of the European Parliament, we call on the European Commission to take strong action against Pakistan for the brutal murders of these two human rights defenders. Both murders were carried out by the Pakistani Intelligence.”

The MEPs also accused Pakistan of using its spy agency for silencing the human rights defenders and journalists. They asked the commission to support international human rights advocates, in calling for an independent and effective investigation into the ongoing attacks on Baluch activists and into enforced disappearances.

The MEPs also alleged that the Baloch people have no equal access to Covid-19 testing and medical supplies.

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Afghanistan stands in solidarity with PTM Sun, 03 May 2020 08:34:35 +0000  By: Faheem Nazimi

May 3, 20


The people of Afghanistan while expressing their solidarity with PTM are deeply alarmed by the terrorist onslaught of Pashtuns and their pioneer human rights organization the PTM by the Pakistani establishment, the ISI. PTM is a non-violent, spontaneous organization led by Manzor Pashteen to fight for the attainment of basic human rights and to defend the Pashtuns from the Pakistani barbarous repression and atrocities committed by the Army and Police of Pakistan against the innocent and defenseless Pashtun across the Pashtun communities in Pakistan.

The unlawful imprisonment, assassinations, kidnappings and extrajudicial killings of the PTM members are now the order of the day. Arif Wazir is the latest in the series of such target killing that fell victim to ISI crimes on the 1st of May 20 who was gunned down in his car on his way home in his home town Waziristan and later succumbed to his wound at the hospital in Islamabad. The Pashtuns are mourning his death and condemn Pakistani terrorist sponsored state for committing such brutal attacks and violations of human rights and human rights abuses. Arif Wazir was a great fighter for the attainment of basic human rights for his people and a prominent member of the PTM and human rights activist and advocate. His assassinations considered to be a strong blow to the PTM and a great victory to the ISI of Pakistan. I am calling on the international human rights organizations to send their investigative teams to the area. I call for the human rights investigators to name and shame Pakistan guilty of human rights violations.

I am also calling on the US Department of State once again to consider PTM as its top priority alignment and to express its solidarity with the movement led by Manzor Pashteen. Supporting the PTM is, in fact, the right action toward the realization of the Principle of Fundamental Rights for All citizens in the world. This is the struggle for the principles of universal human rights and every person and government has a duty to stand in solidarity with the Pashtun people for their human rights. Pashtuns stand for peace, freedom, and justice. Pakistan claims it is fighting a war on terror; the truth is Pakistan is fighting a war of terror against the Pashtun people. Those human rights abuses include: The arrest of innocent people without a trial, torture and forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killing.

These are a crime under international crime. Laws that Pakistan itself has signed and pledged to uphold. I simply ask the US to remind Pakistan to honor the commitments it has made to human rights. We want Pakistan to implement policies of the universal declaration of human rights and all the other human rights conventions that Pakistan has signed and pledged to uphold. We are part of the same human family with the same inheritable human rights no matter where we are and the way we win is to fight together in solidarity and collected actions. The same applies to Afghanistan. Please do not ignore the atrocities and devastations committed by Pakistan in Afghanistan in an effort to impose a terror regime through their puppets Taliban in the country either. Pakistan is violating all human rights principles and international principles pertaining to noninterference in the internal affairs of neighboring countries and good neighborly relations.

Afghanistan is fighting terrorism for its own and international security’s sake and attainments of peace, freedom, and justice. We need to fight tyranny in whatever form and shape and be united in this struggle. That is how the way tyranny is overthrown. We want solidarity among the Pashtun people, the people of Baluchistan, and others. Everybody needs to stand together because united we are stronger. No tyranny lasts forever. The Pakistan state will have its fall. The Pashtun people will one day soon be free.

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Assassination bid: PTM member Arif Wazir succumbs to injuries in an Islamabad hospital Sat, 02 May 2020 19:51:11 +0000 Arif Wazir, one of the staunch activists and senior leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) Wana chapter had died in a hospital in Islamabad on Saturday after being attacked yesterday by unidentified assailants outside his home in Wana, South Waziristan, Wana Station House Officer Usman Khan confirmed. 

The police official said a first-information report (FIR) of the incident had been lodged at the Wana police station.

Arif Wazir was strolling outside his residence in Ghwa Khwa, near Wana, when unknown armed persons opened fire on Arif Wazir from a moving vehicle, sources told Sayhoon adding Arif Wazir had received serious injuries.

Soon after being attacked yesterday, Arif Wazir was rushed to the District Headquarters Hospital, Wana, but later shifted to PIMS hospital, Islamabad .

Arif Wazir was released from jail on bail about one month ago.

Amnesty International – South Asia in a statement via twitter post said Saturday “The Pakistani authorities must carry out an independent and effective investigation into yesterday’s attack in South Waziristan on Arif Wazir, a member of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement. The suspected perpetrators must be held accountable.”

PTM members have taken to social media and swarmed Facebook and Twitter with posts and tweets condemning the attack on Arif Wazir.

A leading member of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) and a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly (MNA) Mohsin Dawar tweeted: “It is with a heavy heart that I report that our comrade Arif Wazir has succumbed to his injuries. Arif Wazir’s father and brother were also killed by militants years ago. Arif wz murdered by “good” terrorists. Our struggle against their masters will continue.”

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Pakistan: Petition filled in high court seeking ban on PTM, disqualification of Ali Wazir Sun, 15 Mar 2020 19:32:16 +0000 Yet another petition has been filed in Isla­mabad High Court seeking the disqualification of Member of Pakistan Parliament Mohammad Ali Wazir and a declaration that the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) is involved in anti-national activities.

The case is registered by Abdul Wali, an undergraduate student. He requested the high court to order the government to determine the status of the PTM and declare it an organization involved in anti-national activities.

PTM, a social movement for Pashtun human rights-based in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, has gained prominence as a champion of Pashtun rights in Pakistan. It organized a number of rallies demanding rights and justice for Pashtuns who have been subjected to endless wars by the Pakistan Army.

The PTM and its leadership, Ali Wazir, Manzoor Pashteen and Mohsin Dawar have for the first time challenged the Pakistan Army which controls everything inside Pakistan with an iron hand. This is not the first petition is filed against the PTM. Earlier such petitions were registered in courts but were rejected as the government and the petitioners failed to prove their allegations in the court.

In the latest case, the petitioner also sought a directive for the government to investigate alleged “unlawful activities, funding, and links with elements operating against sovereignty, security, and integrity of Pakistan.”

The petition accused Ali Wazir of “working against the state” and said that performing the functions of his office, a member of Parliament should have no interest other than the interests of the people.
The petitioner pleaded the court to restrict, control and censor PTMs’ publications under the applicable laws in the larger public interest to maintain political, social and public order.
“Ali Wazir is taking decisions and issuing statements which will have grave consequences for the protection of economic, political and over-all national interests of the country,” the petitioner alleged.

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Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement: Challenging the ‘War of Terror’ Sun, 02 Feb 2020 19:50:30 +0000

Ismat Shahjahan addressing a meeting of the Aurat Azadi march. Image: WDF Karachi (Facebook)


By: Tayyaba Jiwani & Ayyaz Mallick

An interview with Ismat Shahjahan on the origins, aims, and trajectories of PTM


The Pashtun Tahaffuz [Protection] Movement (PTM) has come to represent a focal point for the accumulated grievances of Pakistani Pashtuns over the last four and a half decades of imperial and civil warfare in the region. The movement germinated in the camps of “internally displaced persons” (IDPs) where Pashtuns from the tribal belt of northwest Pakistan were forcibly relocated in squalid conditions while their villages were razed to the ground, ostensibly to clear away Taliban militants. The devastation of the war, fed by thousands of Pashtun bodies, culminated in the humiliation of rendering them homeless, destitute, and worthy of suspicion as potential ‘Taliban-sympathisers’. Moreover, they returned to find their homes looted and bombed while many militant networks remained intact, even protected.

It was the police murder of a popular Pashtun youth, Naqeebullah Mehsud, in Karachi that brought home the disposability of lives from the border hinterlands. It propelled what was until then a fledgling campaign against unmarked landmines (from the anti-Soviet jihad and War on Terror) to a movement challenging the brutalization of Pashtuns and demanding an end to the entrenched war economy.

The killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring model and social media celebrity from Waziristan in a police brutality incident in Karachi was a key event which propelled the PTM. Image:    Sindh Post

The killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring model and social media celebrity from Waziristan in a police brutality incident in Karachi was a key event which propelled the PTM. Image: Sindh Post

The PTM’s main demands include the recovery of thousands of “missing persons” disappeared by the intelligence agencies, and an end to the profiling of Pashtuns by security forces, especially through their vast network of “checkpoints” for molecular surveillance in the tribal areas. The selling of military services to imperialism and a heady mix of Islam and regional bravado have provided lucrative opportunities and ideological justification to the Pakistani ruling classes since the Cold War-era. In clearly identifying and challenging the linked logics of war and securitisation, the PTM has attacked the very gravitational point, the center of sustenance, of the state and ruling classes. The PTM’s popularity then, and the brutal crackdown and propaganda on the part of the state, come as no surprise.

Another reason for the brutal reaction of the ruling classes is PTM’s engagement with other oppressed ethnicities and leftist parties in Pakistan. An alliance of downtrodden ethnic groups and oppressed classes remains their worst nightmare: a transcendence of the old colonial policy of “divide and rule” by the genuine and insurgent unity of the people.

In a renewed crackdown on the PTM, the leader Manzoor Pashteen was arrested on January 27, 2020 on charges of 'sedition', in what many consider a case of political victimization. Image:    Times of Islamabad

In a renewed crackdown on the PTM, the leader Manzoor Pashteen was arrested on January 27, 2020 on charges of ‘sedition’, in what many consider a case of political victimization. Image: Times of Islamabad

In light of renewed repression on the PTM, including the arrest on sedition charges of its leader Manzoor Pashteen, here we publish an interview on the origins, aims, and trajectories of the movement conducted some time ago with Ismat Shahjahan. Ismat is deputy general-secretary of the socialist Awami Workers’ Party (AWP) and president of the Women’s Democratic Front (WDF), both organizations in solidarity with the PTM. At the time of the interview, Ismat was also in the PTM’s core committee.

Ismat, along with 29 AWP and PTM organisers, was arrested this week when police attacked a peaceful protest demanding Manzoor’s release. While some, including Ismat, were let go, 23 young activists still remain in custody, tragically being charged under sedition and anti-terror laws. 

How do you understand the social and historical bases of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)?

Ismat Shahjahan (IS): When the PTM began, around the time of the Islamabad dharna [sit-in] in February 2018, MNAs from the establishment parties (PML-N and PML-Q) and the Maliks from North and South Waziristan, who were paid crores of rupees, stationed themselves in Islamabad. Maliks, tribal chiefs from (former) FATA regions who mediate relations between the state and FATA’s tribes and function as federal agents, initially tried to lead the movement. But there was an internal class war, in which all these establishment touts — Maliks, MNAs and MPAs — were driven away. Now, the movement generally comprises people from the middle class and below. There are no Maliks or large landowners. Women and girls from the victims’ families and feminists are also part of PTM. So the PTM contains elements of both class struggle and patriarchal war.

Secondly, whenever the establishment asks to negotiate with the PTM, it brings forth the usual establishment touts — big smugglers, Maliks, retired armed services personnel, etc. — to constitute the jirga [negotiating council]. The jirga has maybe one or two people from the PTM, while the rest are the establishment’s own people. So, basically, they want to talk to themselves. However, the PTM has been rejecting such empty offers. So this is another face of the class war in the movement. And finally, a large part of the class war in the struggle is the fact that it is challenging the largest corporate actor in Pakistan — one which has very large investments in the private sector, controls the military-industrial complex, and which also has imperialist roots. That is, of course, the Pakistani military.

Of course, PTM doesn’t explicitly state that it will push a class struggle, but there are tendencies within the movement that do this. Then, there is the (conscious or unconscious) symbolism: for example, Manzoor Pashteen’s rustic way of life, the images of him sitting in a kaccha [earthen unplastered] home, on hand-woven mats etc. All this resonates with the Pashtun working poor, who form the mass base of the movement. This is one of the positive aspects of this movement — the fact that the majority of its support is among the working poor. Actually, it is with much difficulty that they pay for their own transport tickets to attend the PTM’s sit-ins and protests.

PTM rallies have drawn massive crowds of Pashtuns, families of disappeared persons, and members of other oppressed nations across Pakistan since 2018. Here Manzoor Pashteen addresses a PTM rally in Quetta. Image:    New Frame

PTM rallies have drawn massive crowds of Pashtuns, families of disappeared persons, and members of other oppressed nations across Pakistan since 2018. Here Manzoor Pashteen addresses a PTM rally in Quetta. Image: New Frame

You describe yourself as a socialist. How do you see the relationship between PTM and the struggle for socialism? 

The stated objectives of the movement are not socialist in the literal or defined sense. But they fall along the broad lines of peace, end to imperialist war, global emancipation, and equality: objectives that fall under the socialist umbrella. And all the movement’s leaders are inspired by socialism. They’re inspired by the likes of Che Guevara, especially his method of political action, but perhaps not by socialist revolution in itself. At the same time, there is an explicitly socialist segment within the movement, including members like myself who are also part of the Awami Workers Party (AWP). The PTM also has members that belong to what I call the “floating left”: people who do not fall under a specific party discipline but have an affinity with the Left, including intellectuals, writers and artists, social media activists etc.

“In effect, we are confronting the entire imperialist war in the region. In my view, this confrontation is central to any socialist struggle in Pakistan.”

Further, a huge thrust of the movement is the struggle against war. Terrorism and war are themselves highly profitable businesses. And we repeatedly stress that the military have made these their profession — their bread and butter. It is their business to kill, to terrorise. Also, we are challenging a state whose basic character is imperialist. It is a client state of Saudi Arabia and the United States. In effect, we are confronting the entire imperialist war in the region. In my view, this confrontation is central to any socialist struggle in Pakistan.

Could you elaborate briefly on the political and historical background of the movement. Also, how did you personally get involved? 

I see the PTM as a continuation of various previous resistance movements. People involved in the PTM have previously been active in the resistance to war, terror, and state oppression, especially in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province which has directly suffered from the fallout of the War on Terror in neighbouring Afghanistan. Over 1,100 people in the leadership of the secular Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) have been killed in KP due to rising militancy. The ANP have adopted the slogan of Dr. Najibullah, the former Afghan President slain by the Taliban: “Watan Ya Kafan” [Freedom or Death]. The Taliban warned auto-rickshaw drivers and residents that displaying the ANP red flag would result in murdered, headless bodies. ANP’s election campaigns were regularly attacked and party stalwarts like Basheer Biloor were brutally killed.

The PTM also contains people from Bacha Khan’s “Redshirt Movement”, the communist movement, and the students’ movement — all of which were engaged in similar struggles. The AWP itself acknowledges the struggle against national oppression in the opening lines of its constitution. Similarly, members of the Pakhtunkhwa Ulassi Tehreek and Pakhtunkhwa Awami Milli Party are in PTM . And before becoming a leading member of PTM, Ali Wazir had also formed “Ali Wazir ka Kaarwaan” [Ali Wazir’s Caravan] to struggle on these very issues. When this organization rose up, many of its members, including many of Ali Wazir’s family members, were killed.

All this is to say that it is quite difficult to determine when precisely the PTM was created. The PTM is a culmination of all these historic resistance movements.

Now, there were a specific set of more recent incidents that led to the formation of PTM. After Operation Zarb-e Azab — a military-led operation ostensibly to clear out militants from Pakistan’s FATA region — huge swathes of people became so-called “internally displaced persons” (IDPs) forced to live in temporary camps across the country. Manzoor Pashteen himself was an IDP. Others visited the camps and were affected by the misery of these people. At this point, some people got together to form the Mehsud Tahaffuz Movement (MTM) (Mehsud being a prominent Pashtun tribe living on the Pak-Afghan border).

Between September and December 2017, there was a turning point. There was news that over 60, and by some estimates up to 80, children were killed by landmine explosions in FATA. The MTM then decided to set up a protest camp in Islamabad. 22 young people set off from the district of Dera Ismail Khan in KP to Islamabad with the intention to camp there. Around this time, news broke of the brutal killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, a Pashtun who was an aspiring fashion model and social media celebrity. Mehsud was killed in an extrajudicial “encounter” by police in Karachi (southern Pakistan). This killing sparked such a reaction that thousands of people began joining the march. National Youth Organization (NYO), the youth wing of the ANP, joined the march in Bannu, while members of the AWP and other parties waited in Peshawar and Islamabad for the march’s arrival.

The establishment first tried to block the march’s progress at Tarnol, a small town just outside Islamabad. Simultaneously, a camp set up by some supporters including AWP to welcome the marchers in Islamabad was co-opted by establishment functionaries (Maliks, MNAs, etc). At Tarnol, there was a fight, after which some MTM people were “picked up” [detained by law enforcement with or without charge]. However, the marchers did not back down. They said, “We have said goodbye to our mothers. You can do whatever you want, but we will go forward.”

The marchers eventually reached the camp in Islamabad on foot, and began chanting slogans, specifically “ye jo dehshatgardi hai, iss kay peechay wardi hai” [Behind this terrorism is the uniform]. They were calling out the military for its duplicitous activities.

However, as I said, the camp had already been taken over by establishment functionaries. A shipping container was brought (interestingly by Military Intelligence, the same container used for Imran Khan’s sit-in) to set up the stage, but no one except the Maliks were allowed to mount it. At that point, there was a fight for 5-6 hours after which we made our own stage below. When the Prime Minister at the time, Nawaz Sharif, came to meet us and made some promises, the Maliks announced that the sit-in was over. But the marchers and supporters completely rejected this deal. We gathered at my house at 1 AM that night and went to the camp to meet Manzoor who was of the same views as us. Together we decided to drive the Maliks away. They ran away with our money and the container. That is when the real sit-in started, and the rest is before you.

Mirali in North Waziristan during the 2014-2016 Zarb-e-Azb operation. Over 800,000 people were displaced from the region in just a few months after the operation started. One of PTM’s demands is to hold the state accountable for the immense destruction of property as a result of indiscriminate army actions. The Source:    Wikipedia

Mirali in North Waziristan during the 2014-2016 Zarb-e-Azb operation. Over 800,000 people were displaced from the region in just a few months after the operation started. One of PTM’s demands is to hold the state accountable for the immense destruction of property as a result of indiscriminate army actions. The Source: Wikipedia

How did the Left and other feminist organisations get involved?

During its gradual shift towards representing all Pashtuns, the movement became more focussed on anti-war, anti-terrorism, and anti-state oppression. Before that, it was centred on local Waziristan issues. Even at the Islamabad sit-in and some time after, there was some confusion over what exactly the movement was. We drew hundreds of thousands of people, but had not formalised our demands. Some were calling it “Pashtun Jirga”, others “Long March to Islamabad” or “Pashtun Spring”. So it was very much in the making. It was only after the Islamabad sit-in that it was formulated as PTM — in continuation of the MTM and in light of its human aspect. At this time, the Left was also involved, through AWP and others. And I personally made an effort to get the PTM to articulate a progressive, secular, and humanist message.

This movement has also struggled over the “woman question”. A nation is not just composed of men. And no doubt, national liberations and an end to imperialist occupation and wars is also a feminist gain. However, we also wanted to push the woman question in PTM and get women to join. The more they join, the more families of missing persons will come forward. So we created the group “Feminists for PTM”. Scores of women, mostly from the socialist-feminist Women’s Democratic Front (WDF), but also from other political parties such as the ANP came forward. This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that feminists — not just women but feminists — have been involved in a national movement at such a large scale. Other historical movements have raised the consciousness and critical thinking of women, but have not directly confronted the distinct oppressions faced by women.

However, this has been a challenge. Pashtun nationalism is different from say Sindhi nationalism, where the Sindhiani Tehreek (Sindhi Women’s Movement) has existed for a long time. Pashtun nationalism and society has not been as secular as that in Sindh, and is relatively more socially conservative. But we have tried to change that, to get not just women but feminists and socialist-feminists to participate in this movement. A large part of this is through my own involvement, as an affectee and as part of the WDF. WDF members, like Balochistan President Jalila Haider, were invited to address the PTM rally in Quetta, while in PTM protests in Islamabad and Sindh, WDF members have had a strong presence. In addition, Women Action Forum, Feminist Collective, and Aurat March also joined the Karachi and Lahore rallies. This shows that we have created some space in the movement for women and the woman question.

[Note: Since this interview, a strong and well-respected cadre of female Pashtun leadership has gained prominence in the movement, including Wranga Luni, Sana Ejaz, and others.

One of PTM’s women leaders Wranga Luni speaking at a gathering. Wrunga is also the sister of late Arman Luni who was allegedly tortured and killed by police for being an active member of PTM. Image:    WDF Karachi (Facebook)

One of PTM’s women leaders Wranga Luni speaking at a gathering. Wrunga is also the sister of late Arman Luni who was allegedly tortured and killed by police for being an active member of PTM. Image: WDF Karachi (Facebook)

Besides yourself, how deeply does the leadership engage with the women’s question? And though feminists have engaged with the movement both at individual and organizational levels, has the message resonated among the masses? We saw in the Karachi protest in 2018, for example, that many female participants were either relatives of missing persons or members of civil society or political groups like WDF and AWP. The Pashtun presence appeared to be overwhelmingly male.

First, PTM’s women members have consciously decided that we will lead the woman question. The remaining leadership definitely agrees with us. However, I feel that ultimately only those things move forward which have approval of 80-90% of people. Second, nationalism and feminism are not fully compatible, unlike socialism and feminism which share secular and progressive ideals. Nationalism often accepts the formulation of patriarchy. Unless the overall framework of a movement is progressive, feminism doesn’t fit in easily. So for us, this is an internal struggle. To create the space for a feminist agenda, we have to first push for an overall progressive agenda.

We can speculate over how much of the general PTM membership agrees with our pamphlets on the woman question. However, generally, the leadership and the educated urban base is in agreement. From rural areas, I admit that men are reluctant to bring their wives to the protests and dharnas.

The dynamics are also a bit complicated. If a woman victim comes to the protests and cries from the stage, saying she has nothing to feed her kids because her husband was picked up, these 50-year old, well-built, heavily mustached “tough” men weep with her. This woman is easily acceptable to most of them, as a victim. But if a feminist woman stands up and announces a fight against patriarchy in Pashtun society, announces her rebellion, she will not be appreciated.

We are trying to shift the narrative away from this victimhood. I have discussed with my friends and comrades in PTM that these women who come forward as victims, whose kids are hungry, wouldn’t they have been better off if they were educated, able to earn, then maybe they would not be standing there weeping for their case in front of thousands of people. Even though their husbands were taken away, they would still be managing their lives. I certainly don’t mean to discredit the courage of these women who come and speak. But these are nuances that I think we have to address at a later stage when the movement has matured. Right now, it is important to connect and organise as many feminists as possible, as well as female victims, even though their participation is not driven by feminist politics per se. They are coming for their survival. They may be aware that they are suffering because they are women. But they are not ready to take political action in feminist terms.

However, things are also changing. Ali Wazir, a leading PTM member from conservative Waziristan, was joined by his mother and wife on the stage at the rally in Wana (Waziristan). Another man said, “my mother is very ill but I will bring her on a stretcher”. Many people brought their mothers and daughters to jalsas across KPK. Around 2000 women came out to rallies in Swat, with their daughters dressed up in traditional clothes. We saw the same thing in Balochistan. So a conscious effort is underway to get more women involved.

Women hold images of their loved ones who have gone missing during the conflict in Northwest Pakistan. One of PTM’s demands is that “missing persons” be presented in the courts and be granted the right to a fair trial. Image:    France 24

Women hold images of their loved ones who have gone missing during the conflict in Northwest Pakistan. One of PTM’s demands is that “missing persons” be presented in the courts and be granted the right to a fair trial. Image: France 24

The PTM’s immediate aim, as the organization’s name itself conveys, is to protect Pashtuns. How does the movement relate to older conversations on the Pashtun “national question”?

Before the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan, there was a clear slogan amongst Pashtun nationalists for a “Greater Pakhtunistan” that would include parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, after the Talibanisation of Afghanistan and the destruction of the country, Pashtun nationalists in Pakistan, who are by and large secular, no longer hold on to this demand. In fact, one motivation for the Pakistani establishment supporting the Afghan Taliban was to stifle trans-border Pashtun solidarity. The Pasthun nationalist movement in Pakistan has now changed considerably. Instead of a “Greater Pashtunistan”, it now demands greater provincial autonomy for KP.

But the Pakistani establishment has also tried to delegitimize the Pashtun nationalist movement by conflating it with “terrorism”. In Balochistan, too, the establishment tried, through militant religious outfits like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and others, to undermine the Baloch national question by labelling it as “terrorist”. When a bill reinstating military courts was being debated in the lower house (triggered by the massacre of 132 school children by the Taliban in 2014) senators from KP, including Afrasiab Khattak, fought tirelessly to ensure the inclusion of the words “mazhabi dehshatgardi” (religious terrorism), as a condition for supporting the bill. What they wanted to ensure was these courts would be used only to try terrorists, and not those affiliated with national movements who often get labelled as terrorists by this state.

In general, I think the national question has become very fraught, as national oppression has become so severe. The number of deaths caused by organised state oppression in this country is overwhelmingly along the lines of the national question.

All this stems from a structural problem of the Pakistani state, in particular the establishment. It has refused to accept that Pakistan is a multi-national country. Under the project of “Pakistanisation”, the establishment has tried to construct a new identity, a new nation, which has bred strong resentment. The commemoration of the National Language Day across the world every year unfortunately marks the brutality of the Pakistani state against Bengalis in former East Pakistan. This is the day in February that we opened fire on Bengalis asking for their language to be accepted as one of Pakistan’s national languages. And even today, the state refers to various languages in Pakistan as “regional languages”. On top of that, the severe uneven development, the blatant preference of one province (Punjab) over others in the distribution of resources, and the deprivation of rights to oppressed nations in Pakistan. All this breeds resentment amongst the Baloch, the Sindhis, the Pashtuns and so on.

So the Pakistani state’s major crisis is around the national question. The class question or the woman question are not existential issues for the Pakistani state. But the national question is. It calls into question the legitimacy of the Pakistan project.

Post 9/11, the Pakistani Left has had conflicting positions on US drone strikes and Pakistani military’s own operations and war in FATA. Often in these debates, a binary was conjured up: if you’re anti-Taliban, you must be in support of military operations in the region, and if you’re anti-operation then by implication you must be pro-Taliban. How has the PTM engaged with this wider Left debate? 

This is a complex answer. The PTM of course rejects the binary, opposing both the Taliban on the one hand, and the Pakistani state’s military operations and US-led drone strikes on the other.

However while the PTM is adamantly against drones, this has nevertheless been a divisive issue even within the Left. Drones have killed around 300 terrorists in FATA. These terrorists unleashed barbaric atrocities, slit people’s throats, and looted ordinary people’s possessions and livestock. People used to be very pleased when whoever or whatever, including drones, came and rid them of these terrorists and death squads. So when the PTM speaks against drones, these people reject that. They ask who is going to rid of us of these people. Of course, ideologically I do not believe in accepting imperialist help for any purpose. We will use the power of our own movements to solve the problem of religious violence. But at the level of the masses, they did not see any other way, and whatever happened, people were beneficiaries by default when these terrorists were killed. Yes, there was “collateral damage”, and even children were killed, but drones are generally precision weapons.

But a very important point is missing in this entire debate, within PTM and in Pakistan. This is the fact that what we are ultimately confronting is imperialism. Right now, a lot of the focus is on the military. I don’t believe that by highlighting the destruction wreaked by imperialist wars, we let the military off the hook. I see these forces as deeply complicit and we must place things in this larger imperialist context.

The PTM is anti-imperialist by its very nature, because we are against the imperialist war in the region. However, we have to frame this carefully, because the public often doesn’t differentiate between anti-Americanism and anti-imperialism. This distinction is important, because the right-wing is anti-American, not anti-imperialist. The Left is anti-imperialist. The Right is constantly railing against America. If we do the same, it looks like we share the same goals. So we have to avoid rhetoric that risks confusing the people and places us alongside the Right. The military hegemony is our direct target, but we should also criticize them as agents of imperialist powers.

The demands of the PTM are essentially very simple and straightforward. They only demand their rights, as guaranteed in Pakistan’s constitution. At face value, this doesn’t appear to be a radical demand. So why do you think the reaction and censorship by the Pakistani state has been so severe?

The demands are simple in form, but radical in content. For example, I used to wonder why the demand to remove checkpoints across FATA is such a thorny issue. I realized that their entire house of cards — their system of terror and control —  is built on checkposts. This is how they mobilize and regulate their ‘strategic assets’, monitor their movements, control the flow of weapons.

The PTM’s insistence on the constitution is primarily to counter the allegation that we are committing “ghaddari” [treason]. The constitution of Pakistan holds the state responsible for providing shelter, education and so on. In fact, it is very interesting that Article 3 of the constitution contains guarantees that are socialist in nature: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his work”.

But in upholding the constitution, in demanding that the Pakistani state should principally be concerned with the welfare of its people, the PTM has directly challenged the national security state. We point out that our constitution has no room for a national security state, for contracts to paramilitary forces, death squads, and military enterprises. Because we have challenged the constitutional legitimacy of the national security state in this way, we have faced this level of repression.

Yet we are the ones who continue to be labelled as anti-Pakistan. In fact, it is the military who is anti-Pakistan. They have done military coups. They have violated the constitution. The establishment has treated the constitution like the dirt on their shoes. It is to obscure this truth that they are so desperate to silence the PTM and are willing to commit such heinous repression against it.

Tayyaba Jiwani is an editor of Jamhoor. Ayyaz Mallick is a doctoral candidate and a political worker of the Left.

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‘The security services see us as a barrier to their collaboration with the Taliban’ Sun, 02 Feb 2020 16:36:05 +0000 Pashtun Tahaffuz [Protection] Movement has called for peaceful protests across Pakistan and abroad in response to the arrests.

SALEEM SHAH reports from Pakistan on the response to a state crackdown on civil rights and peace protests led by the Pashtun Protection Movement



ON Sunday, January 26 Manzoor Pashteen, leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz [Protection] Movement (PTM) was arrested by Pakistani police in a midnight raid in Peshawar, along with nine other Pashtun civil rights activists.

Before police confiscated his mobile phone, Pashteen sent a message alerting PTM activists to the arrests.

PTM parliamentarian Mohsin Dawar, a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, spent Sunday night phoning police stations in Peshawar to locate arrested civil rights activists. Police denied all knowledge until media coverage forced them to confirm the arrests.

Police initially refused to state the reasons for Pashteen’s arrest. He was transferred to Peshawar central prison on a 14-day judicial remand by a magistrates hours after he was arrested in handcuffs like a common criminal.

Subsequently, police in the city of Dera Ismail Khan 200 miles south of Peshawar confirmed arrest charges were issued on January 18 against the PTM leader under Pakistan’s penal code for “criminal intimidation” (Section 506), “promoting enmity between different groups” (153-A), “criminal conspiracy” (120-B), “sedition” (124) and “condemning the creation of Pakistan and advocating abolition of Pakistan’s sovereignty” (123-A).

Although this is the first time since the rise of the PTM in January 2018 that Pashteen has been arrested by Pakistani authorities, numerous other Pashtun lawmakers and activists have suffered police and army repression – as Pashteen reported last month in a Morning Star article “The Tale of Two Pakistans.”

PTM human rights activist Gulalai Ismail, founder of Aware Girls Youth Peace Network and the Women’s Democratic Front, reported that on Monday PTM lawyers made a bail application and are now waiting for the court’s decision. If bail is refused Pashteen will be transferred to D I Khan prison.

PTM called for peaceful protests across Pakistan and abroad in response to the arrests. The hashtag #ReleaseManzoorPashteen and #PTMWorldWideProtests was trending yesterday as demonstrators posted film of mass sit-downs and protests from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad (Pakistan’s capital), Jalalabad and Khost (in eastern Afghanistan), as well as smaller provincial towns such as Musakhel, Sanjawi, Musa Khel and Lorali (in Balochistan), Miran Shah (in North Waziristan) Shewa (in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mingora (in Swat), Drazinda (in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area) and outside Pakistan’s embassies in Washington and Brussels.

Arrests of PTM leaders are timed to disrupt a rally in the city of Quetta in Balochistan province previously announced for February 12. The 14-day judicial remand blocks Pashteen from addressing the gathering and PTM claims is the real reason for the arrests.

The accusations against Pashteen stem from PTM’s rising popularity and successful public rallies including recently a “Long March to Bannu” in Waziristan on January 12.

Pakistani state media and government supporters have concentrated propaganda attacks on Pashteen previously by alleging involvement of governments of Afghanistan and India in an effort to undermine his popularity with the mass of Pakistan’s people.

It is surely no coincidence that the arrests were made on the eve of PTM’s latest initiative, a grand jirga (council of elders), which began on January 27 in support of tribal protests in Waziristan calling for compensation for destruction of tribal people’s property.

As he was taken to prison he told reporters, “I am not worried. I am happy to be handcuffed so that the people can see what this state is doing.”

He continued, “This is nothing. Poets are writing songs for me and singers are singing them. This is an unprecedented love of my people. I can sacrifice everything for them.”

At a press conference called by PTM at the National Press Club in Islamabad on Monday, Pashtun politician and writer Afrasiyab Khattak claimed Pashteen’s arrest was intended to jeopardise attempts at a peace process in Afghanistan. Khattak argued Pakistan’s security services see PTM as a barrier to its policy of collaboration with the Taliban.

Khattak added that Pashteen is the victim of undeclared, de facto martial law in Pakistan.

At the same press conference parliamentarian, Mohsin Dawar argued PTM is “Neither against the state of Pakistan nor opposed to the constitution. We are just fighting for our rights.” He added that the charges against Pashteen and fellow detainees are fake.

Farhatula Babar representing the Pakistan People’s Party condemned the arrest, demanding his immediate release. Leaders of the Awami National Party and Pukhtunkhwa Millie Awami Party also spoke condemning the arrests.

Pakistan’s UN Human Rights Commissioner, Amnesty International and many civil rights activists also joined calls for his immediate release.

Significantly, the arrest of a popular civil rights leader quickly became an international diplomatic incident with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his Vice-President Amrullah Saleh also condemning Pashteen’s arrest and joining calls for his release.

The Afghan President’s twitter account @ashrafghani tweeted yesterday: “I am troubled by the arrest of Manzoor Pashteen and his colleagues. I fully echo the concerns raised by Amnesty International in this regard and hope for their immediate release.

“While our region is suffering from atrocities caused by violent extremism and terrorism … governments in the region must support and encourage peaceful civilian movements for justice and must avoid any means of force and violence against these movements. On the contrary, differences with such peaceful movements must be resolved through dialogue and engagement.”

In addition to Pashteen, another PTM leader Said Alam Masood was reported missing the same day. Progressive democratic voices within Pakistan have also condemned his arrest and are demanding his immediate release.

Protest rallies are expected in several Pakistani cities and abroad in coming days. One PTM activist @SheraliSahebzoy tweeted: “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”

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PTM and our unconditional support Sat, 01 Feb 2020 14:19:12 +0000 By: Ezatullah Alam

The Pashtun Thafuz (Protection) Movement (‘PTM’) came into existence in early 2018. Shortly after its inception, the PTM has been requesting basic human rights for their Pashtun population from Pakistan’s powerful army and Inter-Services Intelligence (‘ISI’). Many feel that the judiciary in Pakistan is hopeless and that in reality, it is the army and ISI who in essence, run the show. Amnesty International, human rights advocates, and Afghan politicians are giving moral support to the legitimate demands of PTM. On 27 January 2020, the leader of the PTM, Manzoor Pashteen was arrested by the Pakistan government under s124A of the Colonial Era Sedation Law. Reports indicate that the Pakistan Government is not happy about the moral support that the PTM continues to receive from Afghan politicians.

Manzoor Pashteen

In 2010, the Pakistani government ratified ‘The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’ which prohibits, in part, restrictions on freedom of expression. However, as evident on numerous other occasions, the Pakistani authorities have always breached international laws and rules. Any group, whether it be a political party or a movement that asks for basic human rights, are branded traitors. This is especially the case when a group is comprised of Pashtuns, Baloch or Sindhi. Meanwhile, Punjabis are able to do as they please and are free to ask for anything in Pakistan. It would appear that they are the exceptional ones, while Pashtuns and Baloch are treated like foreigners in their own land.

Like with any other international civil rights movement, Afghan politicians and the general Afghan public have solidarity with the Pashtuns and Baloch population that is residing in Balochistan and Pakhtunkhwa. Those Pashtuns that are living below the Durand Line have the same history, blood, language as the Afghans. Therefore, Afghan politicians sincerely support their brothers and sisters that are oppressed by the Pakistani military and the ISI. However, the Afghan government and the others within Afghanistan have never provided PTM or any other similar civil rights movement with weapons or money to kill their own brothers and sisters as Pakistan has done with the Afghans. Since the 1970s until present, Pakistan’s government continuously provide certain political parties, groups and non-state actors with both weapons and money to kill innocent Afghans, and destroy their country and various institutions.

Pakistani authorities are blaming Afghanistan for the instability within their country. While in contrast, they must be held liable for not giving basic civil rights to Pashtuns and Baloch. The Pakistani authorities are treating Pashtuns and Baloch like second and third-class citizens. Pakistan claims to be a democratic society however, every day they target civil rights activists by killing them and imprisoning them. Often time, those who are not killed or imprisoned, simply disappear. Based on instances such as this, Pakistan is not a democracy but a dictatorship, where their army and ISI are in charge of everything, where their current prime minister (Imran Khan) is just a “yes-man” for them.

Afghan politicians and in turn the general public of Afghanistan have the right to share the concerns of Pashtuns people with the rest of the world. Afghan politicians ought to call upon Pakistani authorities to refrain from using force against innocent Pashtuns, to stop killing Pashtuns and to put an end to destroy the houses and business markets of innocent Pashtuns. It is neither reasonable nor acceptable to watch human beings killed, and stay silent.

In conclusion, Afghan politicians and the general public of Afghanistan have not done anything wrong. Accordingly, Pakistan must stop the targeted killings of unarmed Pashtun people. Further, Pakistan needs to review their policies in regard to the Pashtun population. Failure to do either could bear serious consequences for them.


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Pakistan’s Crackdown on Pashtun Dissent Reflects Weakness, Not Strength Thu, 30 Jan 2020 13:20:52 +0000 Source:

Pakistani authorities arrested the 28-year-old leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM, or the Movement for the Security of Pashtuns), Manzoor Pashteen, on Monday as part of their effort to clamp down on dissent. The Pakistani military has repeatedly accused the PTM of fomenting chaos along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan by demanding civil rights and accountability for the actions of troops ostensibly fighting terrorists in that region.

Instead of silencing the opposition, Pashteen’s arrest has unleashed a storm of criticism both instead and outside the country against Pakistan’s authoritarian drift. Authorities also arrested Mohsin Dawar, member of parliament from Waziristan, who had been released on bail last September after spending four months in prison.

There is no sign that the arrests will end the nonviolent PTM campaign, which has become the strongest challenge to the military’s political control of Pakistan after the mainstream opposition decided to acquiesce to military supremacy. If anything, Pashteen has now become a symbol of resistance to military dominance and the PTM is finding support outside its traditional base.

Pashteen’s arrest was quickly condemned by international human rights organizations as well as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his predecessor Hamid Karzai. Pakistan’s government reacted sharply to the Afghan statements, describing them as interference in Pakistan’s internal matters. Given the fact that ethnic Pashtuns straddle the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Pakistani officials are always sensitive to Afghans taking in interest in the lives of Pakistan’s Pashtuns, fearing irredentist or separatist demands.

The Pakistani establishment has always been fearful of ethnic politics, which challenges the establishment’s narrative of a religion-based Pakistani nationalism. But Pakistan’s ethnicities predate the idea of Pakistan and state brutality has not been enough to erase them. Although brutal suppression did not prevent erstwhile East Pakistan from becoming Bangladesh in 1971, the Pakistani military has yet to figure out how to run Pakistan as a multiethnic federation.

The PTM has been careful not to question the idea of Pakistan while demanding that Pashtuns in Pakistan’s tribal areas be accorded all protections and rights enunciated in Pakistan’s constitution. The movement was born in reaction to years of war and destruction. It blames Pakistani authorities for supporting the Taliban, insists that such support be shut down, and calls for the end of military oppression in the areas where Pakistan says it is acting against terrorists and jihadis.

The PTM started out as a social movement around 2014 to raise awareness for the need to remove landmines in the tribal areas, which served as the staging area for the Mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s. The territory was also the stomping ground of the Afghan Taliban, backed by Pakistan’s military, and the various anti-Pakistan local militant factions that sprouted in the aftermath of 9/11.

The PTM started protests against enforced disappearances and government-backed violence at the beginning of 2018. Pashteen cast himself as heir to the nonviolent tradition of leaders like Martin Luther King and Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan), known popularly as the Frontier Gandhi. He tapped into the legacy among Pashtuns of Bacha Khan, whose Khudai Khidmatgars (Servants of God) had confronted the British from 1929 to 1947 and subsequently confronted Pakistan’s undemocratic regimes.

The PTM got a boost from sentiment among Pashtuns that they have suffered due to Pakistan’s erroneous policy, first of supporting the Taliban and then trying to control the border with Afghanistan through military air campaigns and ground operations. Hundreds of Pashtun civilians have been killed in the multiple wars beginning in 1979. The PTM has wrestled with the government over the fate of the disappeared and has sought “justice for their people in all areas.”

The PTM has continued to grow even though its activities, including rallies attended by tens of thousands, have been completely blocked on Pakistan’s media. Youthful PTM members have harnessed the power of social media in Pakistan to share videos of their activities, which now resonate far away from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. PTM has inspired civil and political groups fighting for their rights all over the country.

Pakistan’s military-led establishment has, over the years, mastered the art of dealing with dynastic mainstream political parties. The generals alternately allow these parties into government to share the fruit of patronage and accuse them of corruption, using the charges as leverage for subsequent deals on policy matters. But the PTM is a movement to be reckoned with because its leaders seem focused on issues and not self-aggrandizement.

Like the nonviolent civil rights movements that it seeks to emulate, the PTM will likely weaken the status quo through attrition. The very fact that the authorities of a nuclear-weapons power cannot bear criticism from a 28-year-old, delivered at rallies in a relatively remote border region of Pakistan, points to the strength and power of Manzoor Pashteen and his PTM.

Farahnaz Ispahani is a Senior Fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. She is a former Member of the Pakistan Parliament and author of Purifying the Land of the Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities.

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