The Pashtun Long March in Pakistan has ended, but the dreaded encounter cop is still free
The News International
The first large protest by the Pashtuns for their rights had become a rage on social media and across the political divide.
It is now obvious the long suffering ethnic Pashtuns (or Pakhtuns, Pathans) from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), bordering Afghanistan, were waiting for an opportunity to vent their grievances and aspirations.
The extrajudicial killing of 27-year-old Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring model hailing from FATA’s South Waziristan Agency, in a fake ‘police encounter’ in Karachi on 13 January served as the trigger for launching a campaign to seek justice not only for Naqeebullah, but also other Pashtuns killed in such dubious gun-battles with the cops.
The protestors, including women, something unusual for Pashtuns, added other demands to the list as their campaign strengthened across the country. They demanded an end to enforced disappearances and recovery of the so-called ‘missing persons’, who are allegedly seized by security agencies on the basis of suspicion that they are militants or facilitators.
Other demands included payment of compensation to the victims of militancy and military operations, ending harassment of the tribal people at security checkpoints, and the removal of landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that are taking a heavy toll on internally displaced persons returning home to areas cleared of militants in South Waziristan and other parts of FATA.
The protest campaign by the Mehsud tribe of Pashtuns began in Karachi’s Sohrab Goth locality, where Naqeebullah was killed along with three others on the orders of senior police officer Rao Anwar Ahmed Khan, who has earned notoriety as an ‘encounter specialist’ owing to his frequent claims of killing ‘terrorists’ and criminals in encounters with the police. The protests soon reached Tank and Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where the Mehsuds live in large numbers, adjacent to their ancestral villages in South Waziristan.
Eight young Mehsud students from the Gomal University in Dera Ismail Khan launched the Mehsud Tahaffuz Movement for the protection of fellow tribespeople, and began a ‘long march’ to Peshawar on the way to Islamabad. The procession grew in numbers and enthusiasm as it reached the federal capital and camped outside the Islamabad Press Club. This was the beginning of the protest sit-in, or ‘dharna’ as such gatherings have come to be known in recent years in Pakistan.
As the protest gathered steam, attracting 5,000 to 6,000 people daily and becoming a rage on social media, it came to be known as the ‘Pashtun Long March’, and attracted Pashtuns from not only Mehsud and other tribes in FATA, but also from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh provinces. Participants at the dharna came from across the political divide and listened to emotional speeches by Pashtun nationalists, civil society activists and members of the intelligentsia highlighting the suffering of the Pashtun people. Poets joined the protest and Pashto music and patriotic songs filled the air.
This was the first time that Pashtuns had protested specifically for their rights in Islamabad. Despite their reputation for being emotional and combative, the protesting Pashtuns remained peaceful and disciplined. The protest campaign wasn’t led by any political party or leader. Instead, the All Pakistan Qaumi Jirga was hastily formed by the organisers to lead the protest. Almost all political parties backed the campaign and sent their top leaders to address the protestors, because they realised the potential for attracting votes ahead of the general election scheduled to be held in July.
The dharna ended on the 10th day, Saturday, after assurances from the government that Naqeebullah’s killers would be brought to justice, South Waziristan and rest of FATA would be cleared of landmines through 10 demining teams made available by the Pakistan Army, and victims of violence would be compensated. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had earlier received a delegation of the protestors and sent his advisor Amir Muqam, an ethnic Pashtun, to assure the gathering that arresting the absconding senior cop Rao Anwar was the responsibility of the state and all resources would be used to apprehend and punish him. The protest organisers gave 30 days to the government to implement its promises, and warned that the dharna would resume if their demands weren’t fulfilled.
The Pashtun Long March had already made headlines in the international media, but Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s support to the Pashtun protestors gave it another dimension in the backdrop of the deteriorating relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many Pakistanis termed Ghani’s intervention in an internal issue concerning Pakistan as perplexing. They advised him to focus on tackling serious internal issues, including ethnic divisions, facing Afghanistan. Certain Pakistani Pashtun nationalists drew comfort from the fact that the issues of suffering and well-being of Pashtuns cannot remain confined to Pakistan as they live on both sides of the Durand Line dividing the two countries.
Though the dharna has ended, the issues that formed the reason for the protest campaign remain to be resolved. The biggest challenge for the government is to arrest Rao Anwar, who has gone into hiding after trying unsuccessfully to flee the country by taking a flight out of Islamabad. If he isn’t arrested and the landmines buried under the earth in Waziristan continue to kill and maim people, the tribespeople could return to Islamabad to re-launch their protest campaign, as they have now learnt how to make their voices heard.
Rahimullah Yusufzai is Resident Editor of the English daily The News International in Peshawar
Media blackout of Pashtun sit-in condemned
Activists claim state following 'racist' policy against Pashtun community
Islamabad: A sit-in by the Pashtun community in front of Islamabad Press Club against the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud and alleged state oppression has entered its third day. Despite electronic media’s blackout of the protest, social media is abuzz with posts expressing solidarity with the protesters. Twitter users have condemned the mainstream media for ignoring what they called a ‘peaceful resistance’.
Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, also complained about media blackout of the protest and tweeted, “?1st time in the past 3 decades thousands of Pushtoons are out to demand #JusticeforNaqib and peace for their terror torn homeland. Media gave 24 hrs to cover the 500 ppl sit in of Khadim Rizvi & here thousands of people are blackout from TV screens. #PushtoonLongmarch”.
Activist Sangeen Khan said, “Speaking to the #JusticeForNaqib Sit in in Islamabad today. Anger of pashtun youth particularly wazir & mehsuds sufferings due to State policies has reached new heights. Deplorable that instead of taking course correction the powers that be has opted a media blackout of protest”.
Journalist Ihtisham ul Haq? tweeted, “Thousands of Protesters are on the streets of Islamabad from Pashtun community chanting #JusticeForNaqib No media is covering this protest or showing it Live, But good to see the whole community is on the same page & won’t step back until get Justice, Find #RaoAnwar .”
Activist Khadim Hussain said, “The so called mainstream media of Pakistan has completely ignored a non-violent resistance to oppression, target killing, Pashtun genocide and rights movement. #PashtunLongMarch”.
Twitter user Ahmad Ali Khan? tweeted, “No rights for Pashtun, no safety, no justice, and now the list includes no coverage in the so called mainstream media? Why are these Pashtun cornered and pushed to the wall though they ask for democratic/constitutional/basic human rights as citizens of Pakistan #PashtunLongMarch”.
Activist Palwasha Abbas? said, “A huge gathering of Pashtuns at Capital totally washedout from mainstream media ,and this is not for the first time we have faced such discrimination from media #JusticeForNaqeeb #PashtunLongMarch”.
Twitter user Tariq Afghan? tweeted, “This is the part of racial profiling when your voice is censored by the state institutions. No coverage of media to #PashtunLongMarch is the part of this policy #PashtunRejectStateTerrorism”.
Twitter user Naseer? said, “It shouldn’t only be the #PashtunLongMarch all communities across Pakistan should join and protest for justice. All media need to play positive rule and give coverage”.
Activist Abdul Waheed Afridi? tweeted, “Since 2003, Pashtuns been sacrificed everything include their Future, Generations, Happiness, education. Witnessed the devastation of infrastructure, Schools, Colleges. What we have Got? Still fingering on our nationality! SAD… #PashtunLongMarch”.
Twitter user Shafiq Mehsud? tweeted, “In 2008 when displaced #Pashtuns women/children from #FATA sought entry into Punjab/Sindh, they were refused entry and were declared a threat; this racist policy was put in action again during the 2014 operations too. #NaqeebMehsud #PashtunLongMarch #PashtunRejectStateTerrorism”.
Activist Gulalai Ismail? tweeted, “Demands of Pashtun Long March 1. Punishment for Rao Anwar & his team 2. Stop extra judicial killings in Karachi & Pakistan 3. Remove land mines in FATA 4. Recovery of missing persons, presenting them in courts & freeing innocent #PashtunLongMarch”.
Journalist Abdur Rauf Yousafzai? said, “Killer Rao exposed the very weak roots of this state; “Might is Right” is The living formula in #Pakistan #PashtunRejectStateTerrorism #PashtunLongMarch”.
Journalist Malik Achakzai tweeted, “Islamabad: majority of the speakers at #PashtunLongMarch narrates the accounts of victims of terrorism how they are framed as “terrorists” through Pakistani media this is the double edge sword that leads peaceful people like #NaqeebMehsud being killed in fake encounters”.
Journalist Nazrana Ghaffar? said, “Naqib killing has become a turning point. No more extra judicial killing will be tolerated- Protestors told VOA #PashtunLongMarch”.
In Pakistan, Long-Suffering Pashtuns Find Their Voice
By MEHREEN ZAHRA-MALIK
The New York Times
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — At first, the killing last month of Naqeebullah Mehsud — an aspiring model shot by the police in Karachi who claimed afterward that he was a Taliban militant — seemed merely the latest in a long series of abuses carried out by the authorities against ethnic Pashtuns in Pakistan.
But Mr. Mehsud’s case has proved different. The 27-year-old’s killing, in what appears to have been a staged gun battle, has prompted a protest movement led by young Pashtuns from the tribal areas in the country’s northwest, where they have long been the targets of military operations, internal displacement, ethnic stereotyping and abductions by the security forces.
Last week, a social-media-savvy group of young Pashtuns organized a sit-in in Islamabad, the capital, promoting it with the hashtag #PashtunLongMarch. As of Tuesday, the demonstration’s sixth day, at least 5,000 Pashtuns from the tribal areas and other parts of the country had joined, and members of all major Pakistani political parties had declared their support.
“Certainly, this kind of organized struggle for Pashtun rights, reforms and resources has not been seen in years and years,” said Rahimullah Yusufzai, the Peshawar-based editor of The News, a Pakistani newspaper. “The people of the tribal areas have had pent-up feelings of resentment and anger at their treatment by the state for decades,” he added. “Naqeebullah’s killing was just the tipping point.”
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, which border Afghanistan, are governed under regulations dating from the era of British colonial rule. Pakistani courts and Parliament have no jurisdiction there; instead, they are ruled by a “political agent” appointed by the central government. Pashtuns and others living in the tribal areas have few rights and can be exiled, their homes and businesses razed, and members arrested en masse over minor transgressions.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the tribal areas — particularly South Waziristan, where Mr. Mehsud was from, and North Waziristan — became a front line of the war on terrorism, as Al Qaeda and other groups took refuge there. Pashtuns in the tribal areas suffered both from militant attacks and from crackdowns by the army, and those who fled to other parts of Pakistan — like Karachi, in Mr. Mehsud’s case — say persecution followed them.
“Thousands of young Pashtun boys have disappeared in the last decade and a half, picked up from their homes and universities and streets in the name of curbing militancy,” said Farhad Ali, the 24-year-old vice chairman of the Fata Youth Jirga, one of the organizations leading the Islamabad protests. “We want all these young men to be produced before a court of law and concrete evidence presented that they have committed any crime.”
“This is one of our major demands: Stop this stereotyping of Pashtuns as militants,” Mr. Ali said. “Stop imposing curfew in our areas every time there is any untoward event in another part of the country. Let us live in peace, please.”
The demonstrators, who have set up tents outside the National Press Club in Islamabad, are also demanding the arrest of Rao Anwar, a Karachi police commander who has been accused of killing Mr. Mehsud and who is now on the run.
They also say they want the army to clear land mines from the tribal areas, particularly the South Waziristan district. Mr. Ali said that since 2009, more than 35 people had been killed by land mines in South Waziristan.
“I wanted to do something with my life, I wanted to become someone, but look at me,” said Islam Zeb, from South Waziristan, who took part in the Islamabad protest. Mr. Zeb said he had been blinded in a land mine blast that cost his brother his hand.
“If a soldier is wounded in a land mine explosion, entire families are arrested, people disappear without a trace,” Mr. Zeb added.
The Pakistani Army’s media wing denied that the army had ever laid mines in the tribal areas, saying that militants had done so. But it said that the army would send 10 demining teams to South Waziristan immediately.
Other officials were also quick to assure the demonstrators that they had been heard. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, a government minister who met with protest leaders, said the government fully supported their demands. But he declined to say when they would be met.
Manan Ahmed Asif, a professor of history at Columbia University, called the tribal areas “a geography outside the laws of the nation,” where both militant groups and the army had found that “violence could be meted out with little regard to its inhabitants.”
At least 70 percent of the region’s five million people live in poverty, the literacy rate is just 10 percent for women and 36 percent for men, and the infant mortality rate is the nation’s highest. For years, Pakistani militants have used the lawless area to initiate assaults against Pakistan’s government and against United States-led forces in Afghanistan.
Since 2001, the Pakistani military has launched 10 operations against militant strongholds in the region, most recently in 2013 in North Waziristan. The offensives have displaced almost two million people, according to figures from the United Nations refugee agency and the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, as homes, schools and hospitals have been turned into hide-outs by militants and meager civic amenities have been destroyed.
The Pakistani Army says it is now spending millions to repatriate displaced people, rebuild infrastructure and earn residents’ good will. But many residents still view the soldiers as occupiers, and militants continue to pose a threat.
Parliament is considering a proposal to merge the war-torn and neglected tribal areas with the adjoining province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. That would allow the people in the tribal areas to become full citizens of Pakistan for the first time. But the plan has become a divisive issue among those favoring reform, with some political parties opposing a merger and calling for the tribal areas to become a separate province instead.
Simbal Khan, a security analyst and nonresident fellow at a think tank, the Center for International Strategic Studies, in Islamabad, said she was skeptical that the protests would lead to real change for Pashtuns.
“All this movement you see, it is pre-election mobilization,” Ms. Khan said, referring to national elections scheduled for July.
“It doesn’t portend to become a genuine Pashtun uprising,” she added. “Political parties and other groups want to pick up issues that resonate with the public, and this march provides them a platform. This is just politicking.”
#PashtunLongMarch: How many more Naqeebullahs have to die before we stop marginalising the Pashtun community?
The Express Tribune.
Nobody could have guessed that the extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud – an aspiring and flamboyant model hailing from South Waziristan – would result in an unprecedented and unyielding protest by the Pashtuns in the federal capital. What had begun as a demand for the arrest of former Malir SSP, Rao Anwar, has now turned into a protest to relay the comprehensive set of grievances of a marginalised people.
The participants of this long march, who are mostly from the tribal areas, are now calling for all cases of extrajudicial killings of Pashtuns to be exhaustively investigated in a judicial commission, under the aegis of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP). They are also demanding for the perpetrators of such killings to be brought before the court of justice, along with the recovery of all missing persons forthwith, and the immediate removal of landmines in South Waziristan, in which many locals are reported to have either lost their lives or sustained life threatening injuries.
Tents and canopies have been set up at the site of the sit-in protest in front of the Islamabad Press Club. Though Mehsud’s cousin and the organiser of the march, Noor Rehman, clarified that the sit-in is utterly apolitical, he welcomed all the political parties to express their solidarity with the cause – a call several prominent politicians, including Asfandyar Wali, have championed. The protestors can be seen chanting slogans against the harassment of Pashtuns in Karachi and elsewhere in the country, and are unwilling to end their sit-in until all their demands are met. Their foremost demand, however, remains strict legal action to be taken against Anwar, who is believed to have also been involved in other fake encounters, purportedly killing over 300 innocent people.
As the sit-in entered its seventh day, a 15-member jirga met Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and communicated their grievances to him, after which they were assured of all efforts being undertaken to meet their reasonable demands. However, thus far, it all seems like empty promises, as almost a month after Mehsud’s killing, Anwar remains at large.
Yes, Anwar was stopped at the Islamabad airport as he attempted to flee the country. However, despite a suo motu taken by the Supreme Court and a subsequent order to find Anwar, how has he managed to vanish into thin air?
The demands of the tribesmen, on the other hand, are entirely justified, in light of the fact that Mehsud was murdered in a fake encounter when he was presumed to be a terrorist, just on the basis of his ethnicity. The people of the tribal areas are the biggest victims of the war on terror, and have subsequently been displaced from their lands in the aftermath of military operations against the insurgents. Yet, despite their sacrifices, not only are they being doubted and discriminated against, their plight is also being ignored. Pashtun traders and vendors in metropolitan cities like Karachi and Lahore are treated differently, just because their ethnicity and language stands out from the rest. Mehsud’s cold-blooded murder at the hands of the police, and the fact that they did not even stop to verify a Pashtun man’s identity before killing him, only speaks volumes of the vulnerability of the Pashtun community in Karachi and beyond.
The way forward should be for the government to take this sit-in seriously, and truly look at answering the demands of the protestors. They need to address the issue of missing persons, who were picked up by the police without any substantial evidence, as well as grapple with the landmines, which could pose a serious disaster for the country if not dealt with immediately.
The consistent apathy and negligence of successive governments has only brought these tribesmen into the fragile and vulnerable position we see them in today. How many other Naqeebullah’s have to die before the authorities wake up from their deep slumber and realise the sensitivity of the issue which, if not settled amicably, will only exacerbate overtime? Why do the Pashtuns have to stage sits-in to demand the basic tenets of justice which should be guaranteed to all Pakistanis without any distinction? And lastly, why are the Pashtuns generalised and deemed terrorists, even though the fact is they have always stood by and fought for the nation whenever Pakistan is facing its enemies?
If this sit-in and the grievances of the Pashtuns are not taken seriously, one should not be surprised lest we should lose these tribal areas to foreign conspiracies and agendas. We are all Pakistanis first and foremost, and this fact should reflect in the nation expressing solidarity with the cause, with the entire country and not just Pashtuns coming together to demand justice for Mehsud. Displays of provincial and ethnic prejudices are extremely detrimental to the unity and solidarity of the country, and the gap will only be widened if the entire nation does not come together for the Pashtun cause.
The sit-in is the best way to demonstrate how unequivocal and unambiguous we are in our demand for the arrest and subsequent sentencing of Anwar, whose hands are stained with the blood of hundreds of innocent people. The sit-in has thus far remained peaceful and non-violent, which is why it is high time the federal government starts taking pragmatic steps aimed at ending the deprivation and alienation of the Pashtuns. After years of conflict, sacrifices and substandard treatment, this is necessary if they are to begin to live with some semblance of contentment and normalcy in their lives, and can have a reason to remain proud Pakistanis.
Young Pashtuns have shown the mirror to ‘mainstream’ Pakistan
The taboo subject of missing persons is back in the national conversations. Muzzling information and punishing those who reported on it has not worked
This past fortnight Pakistan witnessed unprecedented mobilisation by the youth of tribal areas. Thousands protested seeking justice for Naqeebullah Mehsud brutally killed in a fake encounter by Karachi police — all in the name of counter terrorism. Mehsud’s death sparked national outrage and it soon became a metaphor for the historic injustices meted out to residents of tribal areas and the way millions have faced conflict, displacement and landmines since the start of US-led war on terror aided by Pakistan’s elites.
The protests are over for now after assurances from the government. But the movement for justice has just begun.
For 10 days, the youth of FATA were joined by many others within and outside the country. What started as a Mehsud Tahafuz Movement for cleaning of landmines in Waziristan turned into Justice for Naqeeb Mehsud movement after his extra-judicial killing in Karachi. The tribal maliks (or elders) from North and South Waziristan also joined them.
Organised by a youth activist, the protests remained peaceful, and resisted the control of any organised political factions. The mainstream media especially the TV channels repeated their odious practice of selective hysteria. For days, TV channels did not cover the protests. This was curious given the same band of reporters, anchors and media owners were eager to give disproportionate coverage to protests against the elected government[s]. Most recently, in November 2017, a pack of clerics received inordinate coverage and some even supported their acts of violence when the government tried to disperse the protestors.
Multiple jurisdictions and legal systems, discriminatory laws operate in the same country and create classes of citizenship. The people of FATA continue to be treated as second-class citizens and all talk of ‘reform’ founders at expediency of the civil-military elites
But this was not altogether unexpected. Much of what was said during the Pashtun long march and sit-in challenged the carefully nurtured myths about Pashtuns popular in ‘mainstream’ Pakistan. The ‘other’ told its story and reminded of the national disregard for the lives and livelihoods of Pashtuns. The aerial bombardments, forced displacement, and the encouragement and havens provided to violent extremists in FATA and KP over the years as part of the defence strategy. These stories are hard to tell on TV screens that are closely monitored and operate under unwritten but widely accepted norms of self-censorship.
Fazal Khan Advocate, father of a child who was killed in the 2014 APS attack by the Taliban, delivered a moving speech in which he raised the most pertinent question: since Pakistanis ‘own’ the national military, why should they not question its policies, especially when they have grave consequences for the citizenry? And he rightly cited the case of Eshanullah Eshan, former commander of Pakistani Taliban, who, for all practical purposes, is a ‘state guest’ while the parents of slain children in Peshawar attack seek justice.
It is a shame that successive regimes in Pakistan have continued the imperial policy of keeping FATA and its peoples as colonial subjects in ostensibly an ‘independent’ country claiming to own a constitution and international human rights’ obligations.
Last week, I wrote about the fast changing nature of Pakistan’s social and political landscape. The Pashtun long march and its 10-day long protest in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad testifies to how the marginalised are negotiating the contradictions of today’s Pakistan. The state structures are moribund and outdated. Multiple jurisdictions and legal systems, discriminatory laws operate in the same country and create classes of citizenship. The people of FATA continue to be treated as second-class citizens and all talk of ‘reform’ founders at expediency of the civil-military elites.
Youngsters from tribal areas are less willing to engage with the state structures as their elders have done in the past. Such differences were reported towards the end as the younger activists were unwilling to end the protests without written agreements. The way the youth of FATA view their predicament is also shaped by their individual and collective experiences. Manzoor Pashteen, the organizer of the long march, reportedly said, ‘I am safer on this road in Islamabad than my house in Waziristan’. This is true for many, many others.
A large number of FATA residents are internally displaced and now live in cities such as Karachi and urbanizing parts of KP. The marginal and the mainstream are not so distinct. New media, as evidenced during the Pashtun long march, have freed the youth from the earlier imperatives of gaining the attention of the ‘mainstream’ to make their voice heard. More importantly, a decade-long civilian interregnum has created a relative openness for such mobilisations to take place.
Such growing spaces also allow for contestations of state-approved political alignments. The full embrace of Pashtun identity by the protestors in Islamabad challenged the historic imposition of a hegemonic ‘national’ identity. For decades, segments of Pashtun elites have played along with the civil-military power wielders to further a sanitised nationalism but it seems that the younger generations are challenging that. Ethnicity-based politics will remain a reality and it needs to be accepted by powers-that-be. Democraticsation, howsoever flawed it might be, enables reconciliation of multiple political and social identities.
Efforts to suppress information flow failed with this impressive mobilisation. The taboo subject of missing persons is back in the national conversations. Muzzling information and punishing those who reported on it has not worked. It is imperative that the national political parties, the military and traditional media adjust to what is changing in their fiefdoms.
There is still a protracted battle for justice, democratisation and pro-people notions of security to be waged. The young Pashtuns have shown the way.
The writer is editor, Daily Times. He can be reached at email@example.com and tweets @razarumi
Campaign against Pashtuns undermines rule of law
By RAHIM NASAR
For the last six decades, Pakistan’s Pashtuns have been oppressed by the establishment. Marking opponents with the black stamp of treason has been the establishment’s most effective tool for silencing the ethnic group’s leaders when they dare to criticize state policy-makers.
The promotion of Pashtun cultural stereotypes – the portrayal of the Pashtuns as a violent and extremist ethnic group – has led to them being internally exiled as the war against militancy is waged in the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a semi-autonomous tribal region in the country’s northwest). Young Pashtuns are targeted by the security forces and many have been killed extrajuducially, which has had a radicalizing effect.
Since 2001, the indigenous Pashtuns living in the FATA, a safe haven for Afghan mujahedeen, have been enduring the dreadful consequences of the so-called war against terror. Grievances have been fuelled by ethnic predjudice and unjust treatment at the hands of law enforcement agencies.
On January 12, the extrajudicial killing of 27-year-old shopkeeper Naqeeb Mehsood by Karachi counterterrorism police sparked outrage in the Pashtun community. The Sindh provincial government and police allegedly tried to cover up the incident, but Pashtun youths took to social media to raise awarenesss of the more than 443 young Pashtuns that they say have been killled extrajudicially in Karachi.
The ongoing policy of using extrajudicial killings to counter militancy highlights the violent nature of Karachi’s police. To end the extrajudicial killings and bring about change in the FATA, thousands of Pashtuns led by Manzoor Pashteen marched 400km from Dera Ismail Khan District in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to Islamabad, the capital, earlier this month to tell the government that enough is enough.
They staged a sit-in until January 10 in front of the National Press Club in a peaceful manner, challenging the notion that they are unruly and violent. However, Pakistan’s media ignored the protest, providing no coverage. Only the international media covered the sit-in and publicized the protesters’ five key demands. Their list of demands is as follows:
The return of missing Pashtuns
Since the war against militants in the FATA and other Pashtun areas, tens of hundreds of Pashtuns have been arrested by law enforcement agencies. The protesters demand that they be released or be given an open trial.
The mysterious disappearance of young Pashtuns is an unacceptable violation of international law. Pakistan is a country that has a constitution, courts, and set penalties for those who commit crimes. The arrest and torture of young people on mere suspicion is wrong and undermines and discredits the justice system.
An end to discrimination against Pashtuns
Whether one accepts it or not, ethnic discrimination is on the rise in Pakistan, where being Pashtun means being viewed with suspicion. Pashtun cultural stereotyping; the arbitrary imposition of curfews, the disrespectful behavior of army personnel when interacting with youths, women and tribal elders; unnecessary check posts, security checks targeting indigenous Pashtuns in their home area, and surprise raids on homes are among the grievances forming the basis for the second demand. The government of Pakistan has never taken this issue of cultural discrimination into account and this must change if ethnic harmony is ever going to become a reality.
There are deadly landmines all over the FATA. In 2017 alone, more than 73 children became landmine victims, and the number of disabled people in the region is increasing at an alarming rate. Providing a safe environment for citizens is the most important duty of the state, and it must do much more to address the problem, say the protesters.
A judicial commission on extrajudicial killings
Since the 1951 assassination of the statesman Liaqat Ali Khan and the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007, judicial commissions have been demanded to investigate the killings of key figures in Pakistan, but nothing has been done yet.
The passiveness of judicial commissions has resulted in culprits escaping justice. A judicial commission under the supervision of the chief justice to investigate extrajudicial killings of Pashtuns is another demand of the protestors. Extrajudicial killing is an open and direct challenge to rule of law. The failure of rule of law amounts to the failure of the state.
Police officer must be brought to justice
The final and most popular demand of the Pashtun long march participants is the immediate arrest and execution of Rao Anwar, a former ssenior superintendent in the Karachi police’s counterterrorism department. The fugitive rogue policeman has the backing of former president Asif Ali Zardri (co-chairman Pakistan People’s Party). Despite having a salary of just 70,000 rupees (US$635) per month, Rao is believed to have assets, including property and luxury vehicles, worth 4.5 billion rupees.
Since 2011, Rao has allegedly extraudicially killed more than 443 innocent young Pashtuns and Urdu speakers in Karachi alone. The fact that he remains at large is unacceptable. Everyone should be equal before the law. Flouting the rule of law and backing killers will lead to anarchy and ultimately a failed state.
د پښتنو اعتراض ولې او د څه لپاره
د پاکستان په تاریخ کې د لومړي ځل لپاره پښتنو خپل غږ اوچت کړی دی. دغه غږ چې د عدالت غوښتنې پر محور راڅرخي پداسې حال کې پورته شوی چې له بل هر وخت څخه زیات، پښتانه د پاکستان د پوځ او پوځي استخباراتو لخوا ځپل شوي او په سیستماتیکه توګه بنسټ پاله افراطیت ته ورټیل وهل شوي دي.
په پاکستان کې د افراطیت پروژه
پاکستان د دین په نامه رامنځته شوی هېواد دی. که څه هم د پاکستان لومړني مشران بخصوص د دغه هېواد قاید اعظم په اړه ویل شوي چې اسلامي ارزښتونو ته پابند کس نه و، خو د دغه هېواد وجودي فلسفه پر اسلام راڅرخي. د پاکستان د دویم واکمن ایوب خان لخوا د پاکستان اسلامیزاسیون لپاره لومړني کارونه تر سره شول چې وروسته د یحیی خان لخوا ورته دوام ورکړل شو. خو کله چې په ۱۹۷۸ میلادي کال کې جنرال ضیاالحق قدرت ترلاسه کړل په پراخه توګه یې هڅه وکړه چې پاکستان په یو اړخیزه توګه اسلامي کړي؛ اما دغه هڅې پر بنسټ پاله افراطیت واوښتې.
ضیاالحق د لومړي ځل لپاره د اردو دننه تبلیغي ډلو ته د ورتګ اجازه ورکړه. همداراز د جماعت اسلامي سربازګیرۍ ته یې زمینه برابره کړه چې ورسره جوخت په پوځ کې د بنسټ پاله افراطیت څپې خورې شوې. بل لور ته نوموړي، د دیني مدرسو پر جوړولو هم تمرکز وکړ. دا چې قبایلي سیمې قصدا وروسته پاتې پرېښودل شوې وې، نو د مدرسو تمرکز هم پر همدغو سیمو وو. له بلې خوا په افغانستان کې د شوروي اتحاد پر وړاندې د جهاد غږ پورته شوی و او نړیوالو جهادیانو چې ډېره برخه یې عرب سلفیان وو، د افغانستان جهاد کې د ګډون په هدف د ډيورنډ کرښې هغې غاړې ته رامات شوي وو.
مدرسې د افغان جهاد لپاره د جلب و جذب ښه سرچینه شوه. د ډیورنډ کرښې هغې غاړې ته د عرب سلفیانو موجودیت پر دې منتج شو چې په قبایلي سیمو کې پښتانه د بنسټ پاله افراطیت پر لاعلاجه مرض اخته شي. له افغان جهاد وروسته لدغو روزل شویو بنسټ پاله افراطیانو څخه د هند پر وړاندې په کشمیر کې هم کار اخیستل شوی دی. همداراز د افغان دولت پر وړاندې د وسله والو طالبانو د سربازګیرۍ یوه اساسي برخه هم همدغه مدرسې او په قبایلي سیمو کې پر افراطیت اخته کسان دي.
پاکستان په سیستماتیکه توګه د قبایلي سیمو او په مجموع کې د پاکستان تر ولکې لاندې سیمو کې پر مېشتو پښتنو افراطیت او بنسټ پالنه تحمیل کړې چې بالاخره د دغو سیمو اوسېدونکي ترې په تنګ راغلل او خپل غږ یې پورته کړ.
اعتراض له کومه پیل شو؟
په کراچۍ کې د وزیرستان اوسېدونکی نقیب مسید د دغه ښار د پولیسو لخوا و وژل شو. په لومړیو کې یو شمېر پښتنو د دغه ځوان پر وژنه اعتراض وکړ او د دې غوښتونکي شول چې د پولیسو مشر باید له دندې ګوښه او محاکمې ته راکش کړی شي. د پاکستان حکومت د پولیسو مشر له دندې ګوښه کړ؛ خو لا محاکمه شوی ندی. اعتراضونه ورو، ورو په خورېدو شول او خواله رسنۍ په ذریعه یو شمېر ځوانانو وپتېیله چې د پاکستان په پلازمینه اسلاماباد کې به د حکومت پر وړاندې اعتراض کوي.
په لومړیو کې د اعتراض کوونکو شمېر کم؛ خو له لومړنیو دوو ورځو وروسته د پاکستان له بېلابېلو برخو څخه جوپې جوپې پښتانه له اعتراض کوونکو سره یوځای او د پښتنو د حقونو غوښتونکي شول. یوه نیمه اونۍ کېږي چې دوی خپلو اعتراضونو ته دوام ورکوي او لا هم پر خپلو غوښتنو ولاړ دي.
د اعتراض احتمالي پایلې
ستونزمنه به وي چې په پاکستان کې د پښتنو اعتراض کوونکو ټولې غوښتنې دې د پاکستاني سټبلشمنټ لخوا ومنل شي؛ خو دغه اعتراض پر دې منتج شو چې د نړۍ ګوټ ګوټ ته څرګنده شي چې پښتانه د پاکستاني پوځ او پوځي استخباراتو لخوا یرغمل شوي او په سیستماتیکه توګه بنسټ پاله افراطیت ته ورټیل وهل شوي دي.
په پاکستان کې د پښتنو اعتراض د دې ښودونکی دی چې لا هم د پښتنو ترمنځ د عدم تشدد فلسفه واکمنه ده او د خان عبدالغفار لخوا د عدم تشدد کرل شوی تخم اوس هم حاصل ورکوي.
په مجموعي توګه دغه اعتراض د پښتنو د بیدارۍ پیلامه ده چې پایلې یې د پښتنو د ټولیز وضعیت ښه کېدل، په خیبر پښتونخوا کې د قدرت بیرته ترلاسه کول او د پاکستاني پوځیانو او پوځي استخباراتو د سیستماتیک تبعیض پر وړاندې درېدل دي. لدې سره به د پښتون په روح کې نوی پوکی شوی او دا روح به لا تاند شي.
|Pashtuns sit-in continues despite assurances
KABUL: The unprecedented protest sit-in by the Pakistani Pashtuns entered a ninth day on Thursday in Islamabad, despite assistances from the country’s prime minister to meet their demands.
A meeting between representatives of the Pashtun Qaumi Jirga and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi failed to convince the protesters to end their sit-in in the federal capital, the Pakistani media reported.
The premier had assured tribal elders of employing all resources to arrest suspended SSP Rao Anwar involved in the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud in a staged police encounter in Karachi on January 13.
However, the jirga members at the protest venue were widely divided some as some elders convinced with the assurances favoured wrapping up the dharna, but a majority strongly opposed the idea.
Naqeebullah Mehsud was killed in what later proved to be a fake police encounter in Karachi. With the case being heard by the Supreme Court, Rao Anwar has been hiding to escape justice.
Seen by some as a new political awakening among the long suppressed ethnicity, the protest has been unprecedented.
Pashtun national leader and former senator Afrasiab Khattak had said the protest stemmed from the oppression of the Pashtuns.
Pakistani media quoted the protestors as saying they would continue their peaceful protest until their demands were met.
On Wednesday, a number of people including lawyers and students reached the venue and gave new impetus to the protest. The protesters vowed that since they were citizens of the country; their demands should be settled at the earliest.
They said tribal people had already paid a heavy price in the war against terrorism; hence their sacrifices should be recognized and they should be treated like other people of the country as they were equal citizens.
The protestors have been allowing political leaders and others to address the participant, but the sit in has been apolitical. Their main demand is the arrest of the former SSP.
Interestingly, police officials who have been arrested in connection with Mehsud’s killing, had told the court that they were not complicit in the murder which they said had been staged by others.
Rao Anwar is among 21 police officials accused of killing Mehsud, but so far six of the accused have been arrested and Anwar among the rest are on the run.
On the other hand, the Afghanistan High Peace Council has described the Pashtuns sit in as effective for the ongoing efforts at bringing peace to the region.
HPC chief executive Mohammad Ikram Khpalwak tweeted that “the people should accelerate their efforts at bringing peace and ending the war.
He wrote the people on both sides of the Durand Line were victim of terrorism. In another post, Khpalwak tweeted the Afghan government believed in people’s participation for strengthening democracy and the peace process in the region.
“Now the time has come for religious scholars, tribal elders, the youth, women and all to raise their voice for peace in Afghanistan,” Khpalwak said.
A number of Afghans including current and former officials had voiced their support for the ongoing protest sit in by the Pashtuns in Islamabad and called it the path of non-violence.
|Islamabad protest sparked by oppression of Pakhtuns: Khattak
||Javed Hamim Kakar
KABUL (Pajhwok): Political analysts call a massive protest in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, an energetic movement aimed to awaken the Pakhtun nations.
The killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud in the southern city of Karachi prompted thousands of activists to converge on Islamabad to press for seeking justice and an end to the oppression of Pakhtuns.
Haunted by years of neglect and suffering, the protesters listed five demands, including swift justice for Mehsud’s family. They want the authorities to arrest police officer Rao Anwar, blamed for the murder.
Anwar has a reputation for killing suspected terrorists and criminals in encounters, Pakistani media reports say. He has been involved in the killing of hundreds of people in what are locally called fake police encounters.
Former Pakistani lawmaker and Awami National Party (ANP) leader Afrasib Khattak said the protest was a manifestation of the oppression endured by more than 5 million FATA residents.
He told Pajhwok Afghan News Pakhtuns resident of the tribal belt had been victims of oppression for many years. “Pakhtuns in FATA in general and Waziristan in particular have been devastated by the armed conflict, but their suffering and agonies remained unnoticed.”
Khattak claimed Islamabad’s failure to implement reforms in FATA contributed to resentment as the region still languished under a draconian colonial-era legal regime known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR).
He quoted the Pakistan government as saying that 55,000 people had been killed in the fight against terrorism. For sure, he reiterated, 95 percent of victims were Pakhtuns -- FATA residents.
About the Islamabad protest, the former senator said it was an historic and huge gathering of Pakhtuns. It was the first time they had raised voice for their rights.
Khattak blamed some other political and religious parties for the TV headquarters, the Supreme Court and other government buildings during demonstrations in Pakistan and thereby created problems for the people.
The Pakhtuns, however, demonstrated in a peaceful manner. The nationalist leader complained that Pakistani media did not cover the protest over the first two days, but Pakhtuns highlighted it in social media.
According to Khattak, the Pakhtuns of the FATA have been under control of Pakistani troops for the last 15 years. Political activities have been banned in the region, but the Islamabad protest defied all restrictions and informed the world of their problems.
A civil society activist and Peshawar-based journalist, Farooq Firaq, remarked the Pakhtuns had awakened after a long time to seek their rights. The protest in Islamabad had inspired the Pakhtuns, he believed.
“Many political parties or so-called Pakhtun nationalist groups have been left behind by the ongoing demonstrations. The nationalists, pretending to be serving Pakhtuns, but are in fact working for intelligence agencies,” he alleged.
According to him, Asfandyar Wali Khan, leader of the Awami National Party, on which Pakhtuns count a lot, addressed the protest on the fifth day and after stringent criticism.
|Pashtun Grievances Echo In Islamabad Protest
||Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Millions of ethnic Pashtuns have endured years of terrorist violence, military operations, and displacement in northwestern Pakistan, and yet their protests rarely reverberate in the country’s capital, Islamabad.
But the murder of a young shopkeeper in an allegedly staged gunbattle with the police last month appears to have stirred up grievances that were long suppressed.
The killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud in the southern city of Karachi prompted thousands of activists to converge on Islamabad to press for their demands in seeking justice and an end to their oppression.
Participants and speakers from all walks of life thronged the protest site in front of a busy Islamabad market on February 5. In a series of emotional speeches, speaker after speaker ran through their grievances and called on the government to act.
“Naqeebullah Mehsud was not the first Pashtun killed unlawfully in this country. A lot of our blood has been spilled,” protest organizer Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen thundered from the top of a metal shipping container used as a makeshift stage. “However, our patience has now run out after this killing.”
Pashteen, an activist who has spent years lobbying to draw attention to the plight of his Mehsud tribe, is among the campaigners determined not to leave Islamabad until their demands are met.
The protesters listed five demands, shaped by years of neglect and suffering. Swift justice for Mehsud tops the demands; they are asking authorities to arrest Rao Anwar, a fugitive police officer blamed for the murder according to a government probe.
Anwar has a reputation of staging gunbattles with suspected terrorists and criminals, and Pakistani media reports say he has supervised the killings of hundreds of people in what are locally called fake police encounters.
“The chief justice [of Pakistan] should personally monitor a judicial commission to probe unlawful killings in Karachi and the regions inhabited by the Pashtuns,” read a leaflet distributed at the protest. “All the victims of enforced disappearances should be presented before a court of law. Those found guilty of a crime should be punished while the rest should be freed.”
Last month, Pashteen, now in his 30s, mobilized a Mehsud jirga, or tribal council, to warn Islamabad to clear landmines and unexploded ordinance from their homeland in the South Waziristan tribal district or brace for unprecedented protests.
It’s no surprise that clearing the deadly landmines is one of the protesters’ demands. An estimated half a million Mehsuds left their homes before the onset of a major Pakistani military offensive in 2008, and nearly 80 adults and children have reportedly been killed in landmine explosions since most Mehsuds returned to their homes by the end of last year.
In a telling revelation about life in a conflict zone, the protesters are demanding an end to curfew and other coercive measures used after attacks against security forces. “Across FATA and Waziristan in particular, authorities should avoid imposing curfews and beating civilians,” the pamphlet said, referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas by its acronym.
Waziristan, divided into North and South Waziristan districts, are two of the seven FATA districts. The region turned into a front line of the global war on terrorism after 9/11 when Al-Qaeda and allied extremism sought shelter in the region after the demise of the hard-line Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan in late 2001.
In the subsequent years, millions of Pashtuns in FATA and neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province paid a steep price. They comprise a majority of the more than 50,000 civilians whom authorities say have been killed in militant attacks and military offensives. More than 6 million were displaced in dozens of military operations as hundreds of thousands of families lost their businesses and livelihoods.
Many of those who took part in the Islamabad protest say they are angry over Pashtun profiling and atrocities by Pakistani security forces. “Every one of us has endured immeasurable suffering. Our bodies bear the scars of what we have endured, and our homeland has turned into hell,” Ali Wazir told participants.
Wazir, a tribal leader turned politician in his 40s, has lost nearly a dozen members of his extended family to violence in South Waziristan since 2003. Like thousands of killings across Pakistan’s northwestern Pashtun regions, the murders of his brothers, father, uncles, and cousins remain unresolved.
“Today, I can protest in Islamabad, but we cannot do the same in my homeland,” he said. “Today, we are in Islamabad and want to ask how many innocent people like Naqeebullah have you killed, and how many are languishing in prisons for years?”
Fazal Khan, a lawyer, lost his son in a 2014 Taliban attack on an army-run school in the northwestern Pashtun city of Peshawar in December 2014. He is deeply critical of the powerful Pakistani Army’s approach of killing some militants while appeasing others.
“We should not be deceived in the name of the Taliban,” he said, referring to the military’s treatment of a former Taliban spokesman whose faction accepted responsibility for the attack on his son’s school but was apparently pardoned after surrendering to the authorities last year. “They are like a guard who is fed, clothed, and armed in the best way possible but fails to protect our home from ruin.”
The Pakistani military, however, rejects such criticism. Last month, army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa claimed Pakistan had defeated “terrorists of all hues and colors” in its restive border regions and is now going after their “disorganized residual presence under Operation Raddul Fasaad,” or purging of evil.
Pakistani authorities are largely silent on protestor demands. On February 3, a junior cabinet minister, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, visited the protest site and told participants that their administration supports their demands and is keen on resolving them, according to the daily Pakistan Times.
Former Pakistani lawmaker Afrasiab Khattak says the protest is a manifestation of the oppression endured by more than 5 million FATA residents.
“Pashtuns in FATA in general and Waziristan in particular have been devastated by the armed conflict, but their sufferings and agonies remain unnoticed,” he said. “Rapid urbanization, education, remittances, and the rise of professionals and the middle class have led to greater awareness, but the process of political empowerment lags far behind.”
Khattak says Islamabad’s failure in implementing reforms in FATA contributes to resentment as the region still languishes under a draconian colonial-era legal regime known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations.
He says youth activism has taken seasoned politicians by surprise and the masses appear to be now mobilizing for their rights. This, he says, is also changing perceptions about Pashtuns as a collection of warlike tribes.
“Such stereotypes are being shattered by the most peaceful and disciplined political agitation in Islamabad’s recent history,” he noted.
پښتون قومي جرګې د خاقان عباسي وړاندیزونه رد کړل
د پښتون قومي جرګې او د پاکستان د صدراعظم خاقان عباسي د استازو ترمنځ خبرې بې نتیجې پای ته ورسېدې
د پښتون قومي جرګې استازو، چې په پاکستان کې یې له پښتنو سره د زور- زیاتیو او ظلمونو خلاف له نژدې ۱۰ ورځو راهیسې په اسلام اباد کې احتجاج ته دوام ورکړی، د چهارشنبې په ورځ /فبروري ۷/ د پاکستان د صدراعظم وړاندیزونه ونه منل.
احتجاج کوونکو وویل چې سوله ییزې مظاهرې ته به تر هغو دوام ورکړي چې روا غوښتنې یې منل شوي نه وي.
پاکستان ټوډې ورځپاڼه وايي، صدراعظم خاقان عباسي له قبایلي مشرانو سره په کتنه کې وویل، له ټولو امکاناتو به کار واخلي چې د کراچۍ د پولیسو مشر راو انور له کاره لېرې کړي.
راوانور د جنورۍ په ۱۳ مه نجیب الله مسید په یوه جعلي جګړه کې وواژه. د مسید بې رحمانه وژنه سبب شوه چې پښتانه د هغو ټولو ظلمونو خلاف د لومړي ځل لپاره غږ اوچت کړي چې په پاکستان کې له پښتنو سره کېږي.
که څه هم پاکستان ټوډې ورځپاڼه وايي چې د پښتون قومي جرګې غړي وروسته له دې چې له صدراعظم سره یې وکتل، د اختلاف ښکار شوي، خو راپورونه وايي چې اعتراضونه لا هم دوام لري او ټول احتجاج کوونکي په یوه خوله د پښتنو د قاتلانو د نیولو او ازادۍ غوښتنه کوي.
پاکستان ټوډې هم اعتراف کړی چې د احتجاج کوونکو اکثریت د اعتراض د دوام غوښتونکی دی.
ورځپاڼه وايي، هغو کسانو چې له عباسي سره له کتنې وروسته د احتجاج د پای ته رسېدو ملاتړ کاوه، د دې پوښتنې ځواب ونه ویلای شو چې که حکومت د دوی غوښتنې ونه منلې، څوک به مسوول وي.
د اسلام اباد روان احتجاج د پښتنو لومړنی خودجوشه پاڅون دی چې د کوم ګوند سیاسي هدفونو او اجنډا ته له پامه پرته د ټول پښتون ولس د روا حقونو لپاره کېږي.
دوی ټولو پښتنو ته، که په هر ګوند او نظریې پورې اړه لري، د وینا او نظر څرګندولو حق ورکوي خو خپلې غوښتنې په کوم سیاسي ګوند پورې نه محدودوي.
|Mehsud extra-judicial killing protest continues in Islamabad
Tribesmen protest in Islamabad to demand arrest of Naqeebullah Mehsud’s killers
Tribesmen from South Waziristan outside National Press Club in Islamabad seeking justice for Mehsud’s killing.
Islamabad: The issue of extra-judicial killing has taken a new turn in Pakistan with ongoing protest by hundreds of tribesmen in Islamabad demanding immediate arrest of those involved in the killing and recovery of missing persons.
Tribal elders and youth from Mehsud tribe of South Waziristan have gathered outside National Press Club in Islamabad holding placards and banners that read ‘Justice for Naqeeb Mehsud’.
They are demanding the arrest and accountability of the fugitive police officer ex-SSP Rao Anwar who has been accused of the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud on January 13, 2018 in a staged ‘police encounter’ in the southern city of Karachi.
Police claimed that the deceased was a militant affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) but it was later found to be a staged encounter led by Rao, in which the aspiring model Naqeebullah and three others were killed.
The killing of Naqeebullah, 27, a South Waziristan resident and father of three, sparked national outrage.