NEWS & VIEWS
THE Washington Post had published a treatise authored by Pamela Constable and Haq Nawaz Khan on April 22, which was supportive of the PTM, and highlighted the outpourings of its leaders maligning Pakistan’s armed forces. It however admitted foreign hand behind the movement. The authors stated: “The new Pashtun movement has received support from Afghans, including a strong endorsement from President Ashraf Ghani, an ethnic Pashtun. But this has only made the movement more controversial, because relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are tense.” There is a perception that Afghan intelligence agency NDS and Indian RAW have made inroads in the PTM as well, otherwise this nascent organization does not have enough funds to organize demonstrations and rallies in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. In his write-ups, Harsha Kakar, Major General (retd) from Indian army has been highlighting the protest demonstrations by Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM).
Recently, he wrote: “The major demands of the PTM as enunciated by Manzoor post the arrest of SSP Rao Anwar, establishment of a judicial commission to investigate extrajudicial killings of Pakhtun’s, presenting missing persons in courts, release of innocents, lifting of curfew in FATA, stopping torture of locals and clearance of mines. Most of those who form part of the rally carry with them placards with photos of those missing.” Even in Washington, there was a protest demonstration which shows that alien agencies are supportive of the PTM narrative. Manzoor Pashteen, whose name popped-up during demonstration against extra-Judicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, has been critical of Pakistan’s military check posts and harassment of the ordinary Pashtuns during operations. The fact of the matter is that Army destroyed the infrastructure and network of the terrorists and made it possible for IDPs to go back to their abodes.
Today the PTM activists claim to be champions of Pushtun rights; and they are taking out rallies and holding public meetings became possible only because Army, people of FATA rather entire Pakistan has given tremendous sacrifices to eliminate the spectre of terrorism. Army is sincerely making efforts to uplift the life of masses in Pashtun Tribal belt, and the people of Federally Administrated Areas (FATA) are witness to the fact that Pakistan Army has contributed a great deal towards nation-building both in kinetic and non-kinetic realms. Inter alia, the socio-economic spheres such as education, health, communication and telephony, national logistics, infrastructural development, and disaster management including rescue, relief and rehabilitation activities in the aftermath of natural calamities are but a few worth noting. Manzoor Pashteen, whose name recently popped-up during demonstration against extra-Judicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, alleged that army is falsely making tall claims of progress in South Waziristan.
The fact of the matter is that Army has destroyed the infrastructure and network of the terrorists and made it possible for IDPs to go back to their abodes. In line with its counterinsurgency strategy, Pakistan Army has made noteworthy contributions towards the development of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), especially the North and South Waziristan Agencies, and the Malakand Division including Swat, after successful Operation Rah-e-Rast and Operation Rah-i-Nijat and Zarb-i-Azb. The transformation has marked a host of milestones in recent years ranging from rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Swat and South Waziristan Agency to building of road networks, rebuilding of the schools destroyed by the terrorists to construction of new schools, and from agricultural development initiatives to trade enhancement projects. Violence inhibited development, and lack of development cultivated an environment conducive to violence. Increased development is expected to decrease the degree of violence.
After the assassination of Naqeebullah Mehsud, Pakistan’s detractors tried to use the situation to bring Pakistan in disrepute. Afghanistan’s Mashaal Radio and Deewa Radio had started a tirade and exploited Pashtun community by stirring anti-Pakistan sentiments. Killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud was condemned in Pakistan by all and sundry, and apex court has been pressurizing police to arrest Rao Anwar and others involved in extra-judicial killings. Meanwhile, former Superintend of Police Rao Anwar appeared and was arrested. The court had appointed Joint Investigation Team comprising officials of the Sindh police to grill the officer. His name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) as per the order of the Supreme Court on 23rd January when he had made botched attempt to flee the country. The JIT came to the concluded that SSP Rao Anwar and others conducted fake encounter. Anyhow, the matter is in the court, and it is hoped that justice would be done.
The question is who is funding the PTM? Pashteen’s supporters traveled to Swat on April 29 in at least 270 vehicles, mostly coasters, counted at Dargai check post located near the Dargai fort. Local politicians claimed that they had told the administration to not let outsiders enter Swat (enjoying peace and tourism) in such large numbers from outside, but their protests were turned down. Pashteen and others including Mohsin Dawar spoke about extrajudicial killings, missing persons and mistreatment of Pashtoons in Pakistan. Strong words were uttered against army which itself has a huge component of Pashtoons. Rally was mostly a function of the support it had from Mehmood Khan Achakzai’s Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party” (PkMAP) whose local leader, Khurshid Kakajee, Senator Usman Kakar and KP President, Mukhtar Yousafzai also addressed the crowds. Anyhow, PTM is losing stream because people have starting understanding its shenanigans.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.