After making an unexpected withdrawal from, and vacating the front of Islamabad Press Club as a consequence of unfulfilled promises made by the Prime Minister, the Pashtun Long March is back in force and soldiers on under the banner of PTM (Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement) and leadership of the articulate and admirable Manzoor Pashteen.
The moment, the sit-in in Islamabad reached its conclusion, Manzoor Pashteen, rather than sitting back intensified his efforts and frequently made visits to different areas of the Pashtun belt – including educational institutions – to rally support for the movement which has now acquired the denomination of PTM.
As a consequence, this week PTM held huge rallies across the Pashtun belt of Balochistan and received enormous and welcoming support from the people. But in the aftermath of these rallies, FIR’s were lodged against the leadership of PTM in Zhob, Qilla Saifullah and Quetta over their speeches which were termed as provocative.
The charges leveled against the PTM leadership seem uncalled-for and infelicitous as a demand for warranted constitutional rights is in no way provocative or trouble-causing.
Moreover, such an arbitrary act aimed at the leadership of PTM hints at an effort being made to silence the reasonable voices of PTM’s leadership.
It is pertinent to note that these voices represent the deep-rooted and forceful grievances of the deprived population of the Pashtun belt which has long suffered the ignominies and calamities of never-ending military operations, and an attempt to silence and the voices of PTM’s leadership amounts to suppressing the collective call for justice made by the people of FATA and the Pashtun belt.
As is evident from what transpired in Quetta, so far now the Pakistani government and establishment has adopted a dismissive attitude towards PTM. The traction that PTM’s call has got among the Pashtun populace is being blatantly and bluntly ignored and both the government and the establishment seem in no mood to acknowledge the enormity of the issue and gravity of the situation.
Such Incomprehensible apathy exercised towards an organic and influential movement would take its toll and might yield pernicious consequences. Further, the neglectful attitude adopted by the Government and Establishment towards the rightful call of PTM also gives a notion of abandonment to the already estranged populace of FATA.
The government and establishment should make immediate amends in its approach towards PTM because dilatory tactics would in no way help put an end to or silence the movement, rather the movement would double down and might mutate into an impending disaster.