PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police arrested Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen early Monday morning from Shaheen Town in Peshawar. The arrest was confirmed by Tahkal police station official Shiraz Khan.
Police also arrested nine other PTM workers who were identified as Muhammad Salam, Abdul Hameed, Idrees, Bilal, Mohib, Sajjadul Hassan, Aimal, Farooq and Muhammad Salman.
Pashteen is currently in Peshawar in police custody but later shifted to Dera Ismail Khan on 14-day judicial remand where a first information report (FIR) has been registered against him. Pashteen will now be presented before a judicial magistrate for his transitory remand, Khan added.
According to details, the FIR was registered on Jan 18 under sections 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 124 (sedition), and 123-A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). However, the police failed to arrest PTM chief until this morning.
Founded in 2018, PTM is an ethnic party that claims to stand for the preservation of human rights in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The list of its demands includes the de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement in the latter.
PTM, throughout its political journey, has continuously insisted to an end to the alleged practices of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and unlawful detentions, and called for their practitioners to be held accountable, impliedly accusing Pakistan Army of aforementioned crimes. However, the party has largely failed to back up its claims with facts.
In multiple interviews with domestic and foreign media outlets, Pashteen has accused the military of “insulting” and “stripping the natives of KP of their pride”, without clarifying any further. In an interview with BBC in 2018, he accused Pakistan Army of promoting militancy.
Commenting over the arrest, Amnesty International said that Manzoor Pashteen has been arbitrarily detained for exercising his human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. “He must be released immediately and unconditionally” Amnesty demanded.
MNA and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Mohsin Dawar on Thursday said the trend of declaring everyone as a “traitor” should be stopped, terming it a “dangerous project” for the country.
He was speaking in the National Assembly a day after he was released from jail, where he was detained for a day. Dawar and 28 others were arrested from outside Islamabad’s National Press Club on Tuesday where they had gathered to stage a protest against the arrest of PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen.
“Those who have launched the project of declaring everyone in the country as a traitor should be stopped. Otherwise, a time will come when the whole nation, except a few government officers, will be declared traitors,” he said in his address to the lower house.
Dawar said Manzoor Pashteen was arrested on January 27, two days after Defence Minister Pervez Khattak offered to hold a dialogue with the group.
“Who is running the affairs of the country? We are being labelled as traitors,” he said, noting that similar charges were levelled against people like Bacha Khan, Wali Khan, Asfandyar Wali Khan, GM Syed, Fatima Jinnah and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
“The charges against these people have never been proven in any court of law. The only person convicted under treason charges is [former military ruler retired] Gen Pervez Musharraf.
“When he (Musharraf) was convicted the spokesman for an institution questioned the conviction. This is a dangerous thing. Whosoever opposes the Constitution is a traitor.”
Responding to Dawar, Minister for Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed claimed that PTM leaders had in a recent speech abused and used “expletives” against the parliament and parliamentarians.
He demanded of the PTM leaders in the house to apologise for the alleged speech because the issues of tribal areas could be discussed.
He alleged that the PTM leaders had also opposed the fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which he said was crucial to stop the flow of terrorists from Afghanistan into the country.
“Pakistan became safe by the securing of its borders. But you say that the fence should be cut down,” Saeed said, addressing the PTM lawmakers.
The minister questioned why Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who had taken to Twitter to express concern over Pashteen’s arrest, and the Afghan parliament “start issuing statements in favour” of the PTM whenever an incident takes place in Pakistan.
The Foreign Office (FO) on Tuesday expressed “serious concern” after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted regarding the arrest of activist Manzoor Pashteen, describing Ghani’s statement as ‘interference’ in Pakistan’s internal affairs.
The foreign office, in a press release, also dismissed the tweets as “unwarranted”. “We believe that such statements are not helpful to the promotion of good neighbourly relations between the two countries,” said the FO.
The Afghan president had on Monday expressed ‘concern’ regarding the arrest of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen.
“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,” said the Afghan president.