The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) held a demonstration in Quetta on Sunday against what they called the “government crackdown” on Pashtun civilians, activists, writers and journalists. The demonstration was also attended by Baloch activists, including the VBMP Vice-Chairman Mama Qadeer Baloch, and Baloch students, who marched on the streets alongside their Pashtun counterparts for justice.
According to the details, the demonstration was organized by the Balochistan chapter of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, a rights movement advocating for equal rights for the Pashtuns in Pakistan. The participants said that the Pakistani state and the military establishment are cracking down on Pashtun civilians. They also asked for the safe release of PTM leaders like Ali Wazir, Awais Abdaal, Haneef Pashteen, Rahmat Shah and other workers of the movement.
The participants vowed to fight and rid themselves of the suppression of the government and the military. They said that we must gather and ask for our fundamental rights, autonomy, freedom of speech and release of our imprisoned companions.
They said that the government has imprisoned Ali Wazir on false charges and without any proof. His year-long imprisonment is an open challenge to the judiciary and the constitution of this country. The participants said that the authorities have also jailed Haneef Pashteen, Awais Abdaal and Rahmat Shah on similar unsubstantiated charges.
Addressing the military, the speakers said that they have violated this country’s constitution. Either you abide by the rule of law or wait for a second Bangladesh to emerge, they said.
The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement has been on the government’s radar since its inception in 2014. Back then, the movement was shaped as an initiative for removing landmines in the erstwhile FATA. Over the years, the movement grew into a full-fledged political campaign advocating the basic rights of the Pashtun people and the withdrawal of Pakistani forces stationed in their land. The movement’s anti-military stance has not gone well with the establishment that has accused PTM of being formed and funded by hostile, anti-Pakistani elements to spread chaos and instability in the country. Under this pretext, the authorities have violently cracked down on the movement and arrested and even assassinated its major leaders, like Ali Wazir, who is in jail for the past 13 months, and Arif Wazir, who was shot dead outside his house in Waziristan. PTM founder Manzoor Pashteen and MNA Mohsin Dawar have also borne the brunt of the government’s crackdown.