Demands of PTM

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In given scenario of reportedly disturbing situation in Balochistan, tribal areas and FATA, the emergence of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) is absolutely a matter of concern for the government, security and intelligence agencies. The PTM has shown its street power in Peshawar and Lahore and now intend to hold public meetings in Swat and Karachi (12th May). The PTM demands formation of a ‘truth commission’ to investigate extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances during a rare show of power at Lahore’s historic Mochi Gate. The event attracted a large number of people from different walks of life including students, traders and delegates from various rights groups. Some political analysts term it the biggest gathering of the rights activists seen in the country in recent times. Manzoor Pashteen has emerged as unified leader of this disgruntled group of Pashtuns but generally working well for the recovery of disappeared people. The formation of proposed ‘Truth Commission’ is aimed to probe the extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances which have become a matter of routine in the country.
Pashteen’s rise came to surface when couple of months ago a sit-in was staged in Islamabad against the killing of Naqeebullah Masood by a Karachi police officer Rao Anwar in an ‘encounter’.
In a bid to find out a negotiated settlement to the demands and grievances of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), the first round of talks with the members of government constituted traditional jirga was held at the residence of tribal MNA Haji Shah Jee Gul Afridi at Shahkas, Jamrud in Khyber Agency on Wednesday. Manzoor Pashteen headed the PTM delegation comprising Mohsin Dawar whereas the federal government was represented by Minister of State Ghalib Khan Wazir and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Dr Ibadullah Khan while the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government was represented by Information Minister Shah Farman. Besides Haji Shah Jee Gul Afridi, leading elders from different tribal agencies were also a part of the preliminary negotiations between the two sides. After the completion of first round of talks, Mohsin Dawar said that they would return to the jirga after consulting the terms and conditions discussed for the formal talks with other PTM leaders, adding that it would take a couple of days.
Pashteen are stated to be voiced concerns over propaganda of state organs and high ranking authorities against them and registration of cases and arrest of PTM leaders, adding that outcomes of talks could be disappointing in such circumstances. Upon this, the jirga members and government representatives assured of conveying their complaints to concerned quarters. The delegation reaffirmed that all PTM demands are according to the constitution. “We are patriotic Pakistanis and are determined to live with honour and dignity like citizens of other parts of the country. We didn’t seek mercy or relief for those involved in terrorism but only demanded the production of all missing persons before a court of law,” the PTM representative said, assuring that they will never create hurdles in the awarding of punishment according to law to those who are found guilty of involvement in acts of terrorism. Among other demands, the PTM has stressed for the recovery of missing persons, removal of mines from tribal areas and a stop to the intimidation faced by the Pashtuns at the hands of security forces at check posts.
An optimistic attitude is a positive sign as long as it does not turn into complacency. To maintain that hard times are over in Fata comes into the latter category. The remark was made by DG ISPR after an agreement brokered in North Waziristan for compensation to local shopkeepers for perishable commodities destroyed during the operation. An agreement brokered with even a relatively small segment of society in NW is commendable. It is unsound however to pass a judgment about a forest by looking at a single tree. A look at a report on FATA administration’s failure to exhausts its meager development funds on time would show how badly the tribal belt is being managed. Despite securing Rs11.95 billion out of the total Rs24.5 billion, the Fata secretariat managed to capitalise only Rs8.2 billion on projects across the tribal areas. Lack of utilisation of funds by a big margin would adversely affect agriculture and livestock sectors, the mainstay of the Fata economy as well as education and health, which is an investment in the FATA people’s future.