PTM lost steam — reasons

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Mohammad Jamil

FORMER ANP member of National Assembly and now PTM activist Bushra Gohar has criticized Pakistan for meeting Afghan Taliban, which is uncalled for. Before the visit of Taliban delegation and meetings between the Taliban, Pakistan and US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, Mohsin Dawar and Bushra Gohar had twice met Afghan Ambassador in Pakistan. Was it to get fresh instructions to create chaos in Pakistan? In 2018, Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir had met Afghanistan officials in embassy in Islamabad as reported by Pakistani news channels. The question is in what capacity they met Afghan Ambassador. In fact, PTM/NDS nexus is working to roil peace process in Afghanistan as well as create unrest in Pakistan at the behest of their handlers in Delhi and elsewhere. Afghan Ambassador’s meetings with the detractors of Pakistan cannot be ignored, as Afghan envoy to Islamabad is like another envoy of Indian embassy advancing their agenda.
There is a perception that Pashtun Tuhaffaz Movement (PTM) was created by hostile agencies in the name of Pashtuns, and three leaders from breakaway faction of ANP and FATA activists were brought together. Despite foreign funding and support from detractors of Pakistan they have failed to bluff the people of erstwhile FATA or Pakhtuns living in KP and Balochistan. Mohsin Dawar, who was courted in the US by Hussain Haqqani’s SAATH, has become a pawn in the hands of hostile agencies, mainly operating from Afghanistan. As situation in Afghanistan is changing, and also as a result of dialogue between the US and the Taliban, PTM leadership finds its space squeezed on both sides of Pak-Afghan border. RAW and NDS continue with their gimmicks and tricks in this losing battle; and resurrection of PTM is their last ditch effort; but they are bound to fail.
By over-emphasizing the negative role of the Pakistan Army in the region, the PTM unwittingly let the movement lose steam after a few months. The overuse of the term, Yeh jo dehshat gardi hai, is ke peechhay wardi hai (‘Behind this terrorism is the uniform (army’) by PTM protesters irritated the Pakistan Army, which in turn exposed the PTM of being a tool of anti-Pakistan forces at the regional and international levels, alluding to the involvement of Indian agencies. Previous PML-N government, instead of exposing its designs and countering its propaganda, went on the defensive. With Imran Khan’s government, which assumed power in August 2018, and Pakistani media now understanding the gimmickry of PTM and its handlers, there is very little attention being paid to PTM and its demands. After attacking the army check post, PTM leaders were arrested and case registered against them.
However, last month Peshawar High Court’s Bannu Bench accepted the bail pleas of lawmakers Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar in the Kharqamar attack case. However, Justice Nasir Mehmood, who heard the bail applications of Dawar and Wazir in Bannu, asked the MNAs to report to police once a month. They were also asked to provide surety bonds worth Rs. 1 million each. “The Bench has given us conditional bail,” said Abdul Latif Afridi, the lawyer representing the MNAs, adding that the Anti-Terrorism Law 21-D allows a judge to impose certain conditions on admission to bail. The release of Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar has received a polarized response; while PTM supporters appreciated that justice has prevailed, a great majority of the people criticized their release on bail because of their ‘anti-state’ stance; and they view both the leaders as traitors.
The two MNAs, who are leaders of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), were initially charged in an FIR registered at the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) police station, Bannu, on 26 May after a clash between PTM members and Army personnel near the Kharqamar check post in North Waziristan, which had resulted in the deaths of 13 persons and injuries to several others. Separately, they were charged in the instant case registered on 7 June at the CTD police station, Bannu, after an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded on a road in Doga Macha, North Waziristan when an Army convoy was passing through the area. The blast had left four Army officials – a lieutenant colonel, a major, a captain and a lance havaldar – martyred. Ali Wazir had been taken into custody the day of the attack, while Dawar surrendered himself to security forces a few days later.
Though it is not appropriate to criticize the court’s decisions, those who have been watching the Pashtun Movement leaders’ activities and their acts of inciting the people against the law enforcing agencies were not satisfied. However, the courts give verdicts or grant bails on the basis of the evidence; it means that prosecution failed to prove its case. Pashtun Tahafuz Movement leader Gulalai Ismail was named in First Information Reports’ (FIR) in different parts of the country after videos airing comments against the state and its security institutions. There is a perception that PTM leaders want chaos, confusion and bloodshed to revitalize their narrative, which lost its strength after FATA’s merger with KP. Shortly after the news of rape and murder of Farishta, PTM leader Gulalai Ismail could clearly be seen spewing venom against the State and its institutions. Two FIRs were registered against her within 24 hours.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.

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