Talha Taj, 12th Dec,2022
A photo of the Peshawar PTM protest
Manzur Pashteen is a human rights activist hailing from south of the tribal waziristan belt. He is fighting for the constitutional rights of Pakistan’s largest minority; pashtuns. He started his activism against the military imposed brutalities on the pashtuns of the tribal belt and throughout Pakistan. “He is the chairman of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM)” (Moeed). He is leading a social human rights movement and has immense popularity among the Pashtun youth. Pashtun people and youth in particular considers him their leader as seen by the whole country during the Swat Peace protest of 2022. Thousands of people joined the non-violent protest and showed huge respect to the man Manzur Pashteen. Now with this popularity comes the dilemma of traitorship and heroism as the state media and state institutions present him as a traitor and a propagator of hate speech and treason. The answer to this dilemma can be somewhat found in this blog.
Swat Peace Protest 2022
Manzur Pashteen is very vocal about the military brutalities against the tribal pashtuns. “Since January 2018 Manzoor Pashteen and his movement have become the most significant challenge to the military”( Hussain). He openly calls the military generals out in a state like Pakistan where the military has a stronghold over politics and the country.Throughout the Pakistani history, similar movements in Pakistan had frequently died down or have been subsumed by the government while the Pashtun Tahafuz movement has gained momentum over time. The governments are quite worried about the growing discontent between the state and the PTM. They arrested Manzur Pashteen several times on the different charges that are not even unconstitutional. “The reason cited for the move is him speaking in an insulting manner about Pakistan and refusing to accept the constitution, when he has often stressed in his speeches the need to uphold the law” (Hussain). Authorities have held him several times over the charges of treason and unconstitutional activities while Manzur Pashteen is trying hard in his speeches “not to choose violence” and remain peaceful and protest under the constitution.
Manzur Pashteen in an interview to the BBC said,"It has taken us almost 15 years of suffering and humiliation to gather courage to speak up, and to spread awareness about how the military trampled our constitutional rights through both direct action and a policy of support for the militants,"
A school bomb blasted in Bajaur Agency. Asadullah Khan posted the picture at FRC.
The living condition of Waziristan and the deprivation of basic human rights from the people of Waziristan is very prominent.The people of FATA have been living in a serious crisis of health. There are very few hospitals and a lack of qualified doctors is prominent because most of the government doctors are unwilling to go to FATA as they fear militancy.“The share of completely immunized children under 12-23 months in Fata is 33.9% while the figure for the rest of the country is 86%.”(Tribune). The education condition of FATA is very miserable. There are very few schools- which have mostly a shortage of qualified staff and poor infrastructure. “The overall literacy rate in Fata is 33.3%; far less than the national average of 58%.” (Tribune). The people of FATA are rarely employed in the region. They are mostly working in the different cities of Pakistan as most of them left their homes during the brutal and violent military operations in the region.
Manzur Pashteen is a ray of hope for the people of FATA and the pashtuns throughout Pakistan. He is considered a propagator of peace by most of the people of Pakistan while those adhering to the state media narrative considers him a traitor. The ground realities of the living condition of the people of FATA is way worse than the current scholarship and academic research available. Pashteen asks the state in the PTM protests to give the very basic constitutional rights to the Pashtuns and Balochs and demands strict judicial accountability of those military generals that exploited the region for their personal and state interests resulting in the killings of over 50000 people including unarmed civilians.(Hussain). “One of the military representatives once said in a press conference that Pashteen have received foreign funds” ( Dawn). The government has censored the PTM protest and often uses violence against the protestors to the point where they have openly fired on unarmed civilians. “In May 2019, 15 peaceful and unarmed protestors were shot dead and more than 40 injured by military personnel at a peaceful protest organized by the PTM in North Waziristan.” (NY times).
The role of the ruling government of the state and the military seems to be very violent and authoritarian vis a vis Manzur Pashteen and the PTM protests while the perpetual non violent constitutional action of Manzur Pashteen seems more of a patriot than a traitor. Now the people of Pakistan need to decide who is constitutional and who is unconstitutional when it comes to Manzur Pashteen.
Hussain,Abid. “Manzoor Pashteen: Activist who dared to challenge Pakistan army held.