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Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) : New Challenge For Pakistan Army

Col. Shamam writes, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a peaceful mass movement demanding security for Pakistan’s ethnic Pashtun minority is transforming into a nationalist struggle with long-term consequences for the country’s politics, security, society, and foreign policy.

The Pashtun Protection Movement or Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) started as a protest against extrajudicial killing of 27-year old Mehsud Naseemullah (aka Naqeebullah), from South Waziristan , during an encounter by police force in Karachi. The movement gained traction and now has become a symbol of protest against the atrocities of Pakistan Army and grievances of the Pashtun and has stirred up long-held grievances among them. The most striking feature of PTM protest is its strident and open criticism of Pakistan’s powerful military. Criticism of military, which has ruled Pakistan for roughly half of its 70-year history – is rare in a country where critics of the so-called “establishment” face widespread censorship.PTM clearly and directly blames the Pakistan’s Army for the present situation in KP and FATA and it demands that the security forces be held accountable for arbitrary detention and unexplained disappearances of hundreds of Pashtun youth and unrest and terrorism in KP and FATA. In a country where few dare to criticize the army, PTM young leader, Manzoor Pashteen brazenly speaks against the army. In his address to gatherings, he repeatedly says “We have to identify the place that destroyed us, It is GHQ!” referring to military headquarters. Most explosively, Pashteen and his movement accuse the army of sheltering militants — specifically, the Haqqani Network, which is affiliated with the Afghan Taliban — in Pashtun areas. The strong anti-army stance of PTM is in sharp contrast to other demonstrations wherein the government of Pakistan is generally blamed and the Army comes out as saviors of situation.

The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a peaceful mass movement demanding security for Pakistan’s ethnic Pashtun minority is transforming into a nationalist struggle with long-term consequences for the country’s politics, security, society, and foreign policy. It has spurred a spontaneous movement that has overtaken political parties. The movement has received massive support from all over the country. PTM has faced coercion, censorship, and allegations of promoting foreign agendas from the establishment. However despite all obstacles they are winning the perception battle. Many sections of society in Pakistan agree with the just demands of the mass movement and are of the opinion that addressing them will help Pakistan achieve greater stability,democratization, harmony among its diverse ethnic population and help in establishing the rule of law. PTM peaceful movement has emerged as an indigenous rights movement with a justified aim of improving the lives of discriminated citizens across Pakistan, where ethnic and religious minorities often complain of discrimination. Two major demands of PTM has been met with merger of KP with Baluchistan and removal of draconian FCR, however the most significant achievement of the movement is that it has shown to the common Pakistanis that a non-violent resistance mass movement can meet its objectives. Other ethno-nationalist groups like the Balochis, Sindhis and Saraikis must be seeing these developments with interest and can also employ similar techniques to achieve their objectives. Besides gaining momentum within Pakistan, PTM movement has captured the attention of international media and has exposed the Pakistan Army’s atrocities against Pashtuns to a global audience.

 

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