The United States branch of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM-USA) registers grave concerns over the fresh threats hurled at the leadership of the PTM-Pakistan by the Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations in a press conference held on April 29, 2019. Indicating 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 Army Chief General Bajwa in April 2018, who accused the leadership of PTM of ‘threatening’ and ‘harming’ Pakistan’s security. Similarly, in December 2018, DG-ISPR threatened PTM leadership not to cross the ‘red-lines’.
What is PTM, and what it wants?
PTM is a non-violent, anti-war, anti-terrorism, and social and human rights movement that believes in peacefully exposing and raising concerns over the highhandedness of the Pak - Army against Pashtun population. Remaining within the framework of Pakistan constitution, PTM has been striving to ensure 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 dignity of man, 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. It articulates and endorses the wishes and views of the Pashtun citizens within the country and from around the globe. PTM rightly claims that under the pretext of war on terrorism, the Pak-Army/ISI has targeted and continues to target peaceful Pashtun citizens of the state.
The PTM’s main demands include:
a) Clearing the land mines from the entire tribal belt;
b) Presenting the missing persons before the regular courts of law, who are currently held in the torture cells run by the ISI and subjected to torture, inhuman treatment, and mass summary executions;
c) An end to the inhuman and humiliating treatment of the civilian at military check posts;
d) An end to the imposition of collective punishment on the civilian population;
e) An end to the profiling of Pashtuns as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers through official media productions of the ISPR and mainstream media;
f) An end to the distinction made by Pak-Army/ISI between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban, and use the latter as strategic assets for suppressing PTM under the garb of ‘peace committees’;
g) An end to use of Pashtun lands by Pak-Army/ISI as ‘strategic backyard’ for waging wars against Afghanistan in pursuit of its notorious ‘strategic depth policy’;
h) An end to Pak-Army’s new project of opening a new war theatre in Pashtun areas of Balochistan in anticipation of post-US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
i) Establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) under the supervision of impartial international agencies to account Pak-Army/ISI for initiating all previous wars, and the death and destruction brought to the Pashtun lands;
j) Rebuild the civilian infrastructure deliberately destroyed by the Pak-Army in the tribal areas through aerial and artillery bombing campaigns, bulldozing, and dynamiting;
k) 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;
l) Bring to justice the killers of Naqeebullah Mahsud, Arman Loni, and SSP Tahir Dawar;
(m) Bring to justice all police officers and soldiers who have sexually harassed the wives, daughter, mothers and sisters of the missing persons;
An end to the occupation of Pashtun lands, building military cantonments, and exploiting the natural resources by the security agencies, which are depriving the local people of their right to enjoy ownership of their own resources.
Referring to question of missing persons, the DG-ISPR publicly justified their disappearances on the ground that ‘everything is justified in love and war’. He threatened the PTM leadership by saying 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 allegations against the PTM for receiving funding from foreign intelligence agencies without offering a single piece of evidence. In addition, he also accused the PTM and Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP) to be in some kind of partnership. By doing so, the military declared a non-violent and peaceful social and human rights-based movement to be an enemy of the state.
PTM-USA takes these explicit and implicit threats very seriously and demand from the Pakistani Military Establishment, especially its media and intelligence wings, to stop spreading fear, and stop threatening those who struggle for their constitutional rights within the framework of Pakistani constitution. Pakistani Army must realize that this wave of Pashtun youth rising for their constitutional rights cannot be subdued with threats, coercion, the use of force, or any other unconstitutional measures. Any act of coercion and violence will further strengthen the resolve of Pashtun struggling for their rights through peaceful and non-violent means. PTM-USA also requests human rights activists in the United States, Canada, Europe, and all freedom-loving people to condemn these behaviors of Pakistan’s military establishment.