Report by Dr. Asim Yousafzai
In a strongly worded statement, the Pashtun diaspora in the US rebuked the views expressed by Pakistan’s army top brass in a media briefing in Rawalpindi.
“The US branch of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM-USA) expressed grave concerns over the threats hurled at the leadership of the PTM-Pakistan by the Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations at a press conference held on April 29, 2019. Foreshadowing Pak Army’s impending crackdown on PTM leadership, the DG-ISPR threatened that ‘their time is up’. This is in continuation of similar statements issued by the Pak Army top brass in the recent past. On April 2018, the Army Chief General Bajwa accused the leadership of PTM of ‘threatening’ and ‘harming’ Pakistan’s security. Similarly, in December 2018, DG-ISPR warned PTM leadership not to cross the ‘red-lines’” the statement said.
The statement elucidated the aims of the movement “PTM is an indigenous, non-violent, anti-war, anti-terrorism, and social and human rights movement that believes in peacefully exposing the atrocities of the Pak-Army against the Pashtun population.
Within the framework of Pakistan constitution, PTM has been calling for the protection of basic human rights of Pashtun citizens. All PTM demands fall within the ambit of four fundamental constitutional rights: the right to life, the right to human dignity, the right to enjoy the protection of law, and the right to treatment in accordance with law. PTM is a response to the gross human rights violations by Pak-Army/Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) against its Pashtun citizens under the garb of war on terror”.
PTM’s main demands were summarized in the statement as follows:
(a) Clearing of land mines from the entire tribal belt that have caused death and debilitating injuries to the civilian population;
(b) Presenting the missing persons before the civilian courts of law, who are currently held in the torture cells run by the ISI subjected to torture, inhuman treatment, and mass summary executions;
(c) An end to inhuman and humiliating treatment of the civilian population at military check posts along with the removal of collective punishment inflicted on the civilian population;
(d) An end to Pashtun profiling based on the distinction made by Pak-Army/ISI between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban/terrorists, and an end to the use of Pashtun lands for current and future proxy wars.
(e) Establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) under the supervision of impartial international agencies to hold accountable Pak-Army/ISI for the initiation of atrocities, death and destruction within Pashtun territory;
(f) Rebuilding of civilian infrastructure deliberately destroyed by the Pak-Army in the tribal areas through aerial and artillery bombing campaigns, bulldozing, and detonations;
(g) An end to the filing of false criminal charges against the PTM leadership and organizers of peaceful public demonstrations against atrocities committed by Pak-Army/ISI;
(h) Bring to justice the killers of Naqeebullah Mahsud, Arman Loni, and SSP Tahir Dawar along with all State personnel involved in sexual harassment of Pashtun women.
(i) An end to the occupation of Pashtun lands, building of military cantonments, and exploitation of the natural resources by the security agencies that deprive local people of their right to enjoy ownership of their own resources.
The statement further added “The DG-ISPR publicly justified the enforced disappearances on the grounds that ‘everything is fair in love and war’ and threatened the PTM leadership by stating that “you have enjoyed all the liberty that you wanted” and that “your time is up.” Ignoring the public support for PTM, as displayed in the mammoth demonstrations of PTM, and undermining the democratic legitimacy of the movement, the DG-ISPR levelled serious unfounded allegations against the PTM claiming that PTM received funding from foreign intelligence agencies – no evidence was provided to substantiate these allegations. In addition, he also alleged that PTM and Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP) had entered into some kind of partnership. By doing so, the military has by one stroke of pen declared a non-violent and peaceful social and human rights-based movement to be an enemy of the state”.
The Pashtun diaspora in the US reminded the DG-ISPR about the constitution of Pakistan by adding that “he made several political statements, which, PTM believes, is an exclusive domain of the country’s political leadership not military personnel. PTM-USA takes these explicit and implicit threats very seriously and demands that the Pakistani military establishment, including its media and intelligence wings, stop spreading fear, and stop threatening those who exercise their constitutional rights within the framework of Pakistani constitution. The Pakistani army and establishment must realize that this wave of Pashtun youth rising up and demanding their constitutional rights cannot be subdued by threats, coercion, use of force, or any other unconstitutional measures. Any act of coercion and violence will further strengthen the resolve of Pashtuns struggling for their rights through peaceful and non-violent means. PTM-USA requests human rights activists in the USA, Canada, Europe, and across the world to condemn the human rights abuses inflicted by Pakistan’s military establishment upon its own citizens”.