By: Ezatullah Alam
The Pashtun Thafuz (Protection) Movement (‘PTM’) came into existence in early 2018. Shortly after its inception, the PTM has been requesting basic human rights for its Pashtun population from Pakistan’s powerful army and Inter-Services Intelligence (‘ISI’). Many feel that the judiciary in Pakistan is hopeless and that in reality, it is the army and ISI who in essence, run the show. Amnesty International, human rights advocates, and Afghan politicians are giving moral support to the legitimate demands of PTM. On 27 January 2020, the leader of the PTM, Manzoor Pashteen was arrested by the Pakistan government under s124A of the Colonial Era Sedation Law. Reports indicate that the Pakistan Government is not happy about the moral support that the PTM continues to receive from Afghan politicians.
In 2010, the Pakistani government ratified ‘The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’ which prohibits, in part, restrictions on freedom of expression. However, as evident on numerous other occasions, the Pakistani authorities have always breached international laws and rules. Any group, whether it be a political party or a movement that asks for basic human rights, are branded, traitors. This is especially the case when a group is comprised of Pashtuns, Baloch or Sindhi. Meanwhile, Punjabis are able to do as they please and are free to ask for anything in Pakistan. It would appear that they are the exceptional ones, while Pashtuns and Baloch are treated like foreigners in their own land.
Like with any other international civil rights movement, Afghan politicians and the general Afghan public have solidarity with the Pashtuns and Baloch population that are residing in Balochistan and Pakhtunkhwa. Those Pashtuns that are living below the Durand Line have the same history, blood, language as the Afghans. Therefore, Afghan politicians sincerely support their brothers and sisters that are oppressed by the Pakistani military and the ISI. However, the Afghan government and the others within Afghanistan have never provided PTM or any other similar civil rights movement with weapons or money to kill their own brothers and sisters as Pakistan has done with the Afghans. Since the 1970s until present, Pakistan’s government continuously provide certain political parties, groups and non-state actors with both weapons and money to kill innocent Afghans, and destroy their country and various institutions.
Pakistani authorities are blaming Afghanistan for the instability within their country. While in contrast, they must be held liable for not giving basic civil rights to Pashtuns and Baloch. The Pakistani authorities are treating Pashtuns and Baloch like second and third-class citizens. Pakistan claims to be a democratic society however, every day they target civil rights activists by killing them and imprisoning them. Often time, those who are not killed or imprisoned, simply disappear. Based on instances such as this, Pakistan is not a democracy but a dictatorship, where their army and ISI are in charge of everything, where their current prime minister (Imran Khan) is just a “yes-man” for them.
Afghan politicians and in turn the general public of Afghanistan have the right to share the concerns of Pashtuns people with the rest of the world. Afghan politicians ought to call upon Pakistani authorities to refrain from using force against innocent Pashtuns, to stop killing Pashtuns and to put an end to destroy the houses and business markets of innocent Pashtuns. It is neither reasonable nor acceptable to watch human beings killed, and stay silent.
In conclusion, Afghan politicians and the general public of Afghanistan have not done anything wrong. Accordingly, Pakistan must stop the targeted killings of unarmed Pashtun people. Further, Pakistan needs to review its policies in regard to the Pashtun population. Failure to do either could bear serious consequences for them.