Manzoor Pashteen threatens to approach UN for rights
Nation special report
ISLAMABAD: Amidst reports that Pashtuns will approach UN if state doesn’t give due rights, Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has instructed that the FATA should be stream lined and merged with KPK. Interestingly, it was coincidence that Gen Bajwa and PTI Chief Imran Khan both expressed the same point of view on the future of Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on the same day, Wednesday.
At a time when Gen Bajwa presiding and addressing 210th Corps Commanders’ Conference at GHQ, Imran Khan was addressing tribal elders in KPK. Gen Qamar Bajwa said that for the peace and prosperity of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), it is imperative that the region is “mainstreamed” and merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa according to the wishes of its people.
Speaking at the 210th Corps Commanders’ Conference at the GHQ, the army chief said that “the stability and development efforts [in Fata] must trickle down dividends of peace to the public while [the] control of cleared areas is being handed over to [the] civil administration.” “[The] key dividend remains linked to mainstreaming of Fata in line with popular public sentiments,” he added. The army chief’s statement comes in the wake of a major rally staged by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement(PTM) on Sunday. One of PTM’s demands is the restoration of routine life in Fata, which has been at the forefront of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.
“The people of tribal areas should be given the same rights as the people of Lahore and Islamabad,” one of the organisers of the PTM protest had said on Sunday while demanding the provision of basic human rights to the people of tribal areas. Other speakers had demanded that facilities such as hospitals, schools and colleges should be provided in Fata and vowed to continue their demand for rights within the ambit of the Constitution.
The Forum reviewed evolving geo-strategic environment and security situation of the country. Progress of ongoing Operation Radd ul Fasaad and Khushhal Balochistan program was also discussed.
Forum acknowledged contributions and sacrifices of all national stakeholders especially the resilient Pakistanis in rejecting terrorism and bringing about security stability in the country.
The meeting discussed lines of stability operations to carry forward the gains of successful kinetic operations. COAS directed that the stability and development efforts must trickle down dividends of peace to the public while control of cleared areas is being handed over to civil administration with enhanced capacity.
Key dividend remains linked to mainstreaming of FATA in line with popular public sentiments. Forum concluded to continue efforts in support of state institutions which are taking Pakistan on a positive trajectory of peace, stability and prosperity.
Political observers take it seriously that the statement of army chief comes in wake of a major rally staged by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) on Sunday. One of PTM’s demands is the restoration of routine life in FATA, which has been at the forefront of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.
“The people of tribal areas should be given the same rights as the people of Lahore and Islamabad,” one of the organisers of the PTM protest had said on Sunday while demanding the provision of basic human rightsto the people of tribal areas. Other speakers had demanded that facilities such as hospitals, schools and colleges should be provided in FATA, and vowed to continue their demand for rights within the ambit of the constitution. Imran Khan Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan agreed that the PTM and its leader Manzoor Pashteen’s “major demands are genuine”, promising to discuss them with the army chief if he forms the next federal government. “His major demands are genuine,” the PTI chief was reported to have said during a meeting with representatives of various tribes. “I will take up the matter of check posts, landmines, missing persons and other issues with the army chief if my party forms government in centre.”
He also said that people of FATA have every right to enjoy their constitutional rights and that neglected area should be part of KPK for which he will talk to Gen Bajwa. “I shall also discuss the demands of tribal people with the Army Chief”, he added. Imran Khan backed PTM and its leader Manzoor Pashteen’s demands, promising to discuss them with the army chief soon and hold a detailed discussion with him about the status of FATA.
He said this while addressing a convention on FATA reforms at the Chief Minister (CM) House, Peshawar. On the occasion, the PTI chief said that he would discuss a three-point agenda with the army chief to finds ways to alleviate the sufferings of the tribal people. The three-point agenda includes reducing the number of military check posts in the tribal areas, clearing the region of landmines and recovering all missing persons.
Many tribal people have been missing since years and their loved ones are clueless about their whereabouts,” Khan said. He also said that his party would take immediate steps for the merger of FATA with KP after winning the upcoming general elections. “The miseries of the tribal people could be greatly reduced by the merger,” he added. Commenting on Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, the PTI chief said that he had become a nightmare for the ousted prime minister. He further said, “Nawaz is not headed towards a dead end but to Adiala jail.
Manzoor Pashteen Pashtun leader says his community wants to settle demands with govt in courtroom –Rejects allegation of being ‘foreign agent’, says demanding a peaceful life is not ‘part of any foreign agenda’ Manzoor Pashteen, leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) that has recently staged a series of protests against extrajudicial arrests and killings of members of the ethnic minority allegedly by the security forces, has said that the protesters would approach the United Nations(UN) in case the Pakistani state does not give them their due constitutional rights.
“Our next step is to mobilise as many people as possible, to unite and demand our rights under the constitution. We want to settle our demands in court so that we are assured of the agreement. “We want to end this issue within Pakistan, but if it doesn’t happen, then we will take the issue to the United Nations and appeal to the global society to stand with us in these hard times,” Pashteen said in a recent interview with Al Jazeera. He said, “It’s a miracle that our efforts are still going on.”
The killing of an aspiring model from the community – which makes up about 15 per cent of Pakistan’s 207 million population – in January sparked countrywide protests. On Sunday, Pashteen led another Pashtun Long March in Peshawar, demanding protection and rights. According to the Pashtun leader, there were only 22 people with him when he started the protest in March. “But very soon, thousands joined us. We had no idea these many people would join us.,” he said, calling it a miracle. He said that Pakistan would become stable if the law enforcement and security agencies are held accountable for their actions with checks and balances.
“Extrajudicial killings and missing persons is not unique to Pashtuns. If a commission is formed to solve these issues, it will also benefit others,” he said, adding that if the state can address the grievances of Pashtuns, who have experienced violence and injustice, and yet have protested peacefully, it will set a new precedent. “If these injustices and mistreatment by institutions against their own people end, then the anger and resentment will also end. People will embrace Pakistan and Pakistan will embrace its people.” Defending the protest movement, Pashteen said that their protests are constitutional.
“The people who do not want peace have no respect for the constitution, and it seems the Pakistani institutions do not want to work under the constitution,” he said. “This is a crucial matter, and we need to think about why this is happening.” He condemned the labelling of the protesting Pashtuns as foreign agents working for Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s spy agency, or the Afghan intelligence agency – National Directorate of Security. “We are simple people talking about peace and harmony. Our agenda is peace, and if their agenda is that atrocities should continue, this is wrong. How is demanding a peaceful life part of a foreign agenda?” The Pashtun leader said the movement will not resort to violence even though attempts were being made to sabotage its peaceful agenda.