PTM rally in Geneva

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Sultan M Hali

PTM (Pashtoon Tahafuz Movement) held a protest rally in Geneva (Switzerland) on 25 June 2018. The rally organized by PTM was directed against Pakistan and was held in front of the United Nations’ Building during the ongoing 38th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The activists raised anti-Pakistan slogans and alleged that Pakistan Army had carried out atrocities targeting the Pashtoon community of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and parts of neighbouring Afghanistan. The Pashtoon were joined by Baloch, Sindhi and activists from Azad Jammu Kashmir. PTM has emerged in recent times as a grassroots movement projecting itself as the voice for various human rights issues, including the alleged disappearances of over 32,000 people in Pashtun majority areas bordering Afghanistan. At the Geneva rally, flags of BSNs (Baloch Sub Nationalists) and Afghanistan being waved about have strengthened Pakistan’s narrative that external forces are supporting PTM.
The origin of PTM was benign and depicted a just cause; that of removing land mines from the territory of Waziristan, especially the area inhabited by the Mehsud tribe and other parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), affected by the counter insurgency operations . It was formerly called the Mehsud Tahafuz Movement, and was granted the status of a social movement for Pashtoon human rights in 2014. The movement gained prominence in January 2018 when it began a justice movement for a Pashtoon Naqeebullah Mehsud, who was allegedly gunned down in an extrajudicial killing during a police encounter in Karachi. It was at this time that its name was changed from “Mehsud Tahafuz Movement” to “Pashtoon Tahafuz Movement.
Apparently, at this juncture, the movement was hijacked by anti Pakistan forces and propped up to create chaos and mayhem in the country. It first held the capital Islamabad hostage to protest against Naqeebullah Mehsud’s extermination. The leader of the movement is Manzoor Pashteen, a human rights activist from South Waziristan. He hails from a humble background and till recently was just a human rights activist. About this time, PTM swelled its ranks after the Afghan Pashtoon joined the movement. The big question is whether they joined of their own volition or were coerced to gain admittance to get legitimacy for the movement? Ample evidence has been presented by the state that external forces have hijacked the movement to use it for their own nefarious designs and destabilize Pakistan. Pashteen himself has rejected the allegation of being a foreign agent and condemned the labeling of the protesting Pashtoon as foreign agents working for Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) or the National Directorate of Security (NDS) of Afghanistan.
At Geneva, Afghans, Bloch Sub Nationals and other Pashtoon gathered to chant anti Pakistan slogans. Their slogans of “Pakistan Murdabad” or “Down with Pakistan” is tantamount to treason and furthering the cause of anti-state elements. The western media, as if on cue, gave adequate media coverage to the protest rally at Geneva, highlighting Pakistan’s so-called “missing persons” issue. It is no coincidence that the PTM protest rally and the missing persons’ issue have been highlighted on the eve of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Paris to consider placing Pakistan in the FATF’s Gray List. At Geneva, Nafratullah (perhaps his pseudonym), an activist of PTM claimed that for the past forty years, Pakistan has been suppressing the Pashtoon and has carried out atrocities against the Pashtoon residing in KP. Mr. Nafratullah declared that the Pashtoon will seek justice from the European and UN organizations till their rights are achieved.
Another Pashtoon protester from Afghanistan, Zirak claimed, perhaps speaking from a prepared script provided by the progenitors of the protest rally that the PTM gathering was to protest against Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI. Mr. Zirak asserted that the ISI was creating problems for the Pashtoon in Afghanistan and Balochistan. Echoing Indian sentiments, Mr. Zirak conjectured that the ISI was also responsible for the unrest in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Spewing venom against Pakistan, Mr. Zirak declared Pakistan to be a terrorist-producing country and to support his allegation, named the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Daesh and the Taliban. His words must have been milk and honey to the detractors of Pakistan, who love to blackball us at the drop of a hat. Numerous vociferous protestors chanted anti Pakistan slogans. One such conscientious objector,
Munir Mengal, the self styled President of Baloch Voice Association, seeking the allegiance and solidarity of Kashmiris contended that the Baloch were not the only ones among the missing persons and subjugated to extra judicial killing but also Kashmiris from Pakistan and Pashtoon. Mr. Mengal urged the United Nations to take initiatives and intervene to save the lives of people in Pakistan. To add flavour to the dispensation of protestors, Chairman of the United Kashmir People’s National Party Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, leveled charges against Pakistan, asserting that the protest rally had been organized against the brutality of Pakistan and its institution, the ISI. He claimed that Pakistan is actually promoting Theo-fascism and suppresses the democratic voices of the civil society. Sardar Shaukat maintained that his followers had congregated at Geneva to protect historical nations, their culture and their identity. Asserting the claim of enforced disappearances at the hands of Pakistan, the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons, claims that over 18,000 cases of enforced disappearances are from Balochistan. The motley group of protestors was hurriedly collected to pressurize Pakistan by its detractors.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.

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