Ahsan Hamid Durrani |
In today’s era of post-truth politics, it is increasingly becoming difficult to separate facts from fabrications, reality from falsehood, and emotions from the policy. In fact, it is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.
Some socio-political movements, that drive its legitimacy from grassroots activism and thrive on the hashtag trends of social media platforms have fared well in this era. The realm of social media has rendered their campaigns oblivious to the nuances of policy debates and intellectual-level discourse. As a result, these movements give little or no importance to the implications of their rhetoric on realities such as geo-strategic challenges, national integration, law and order, and national narrative.
The “Bad PTM”, on the other hand, is the group of people who pursue a grand agenda. Their resistance towards the state is driven by their personal interest and the interest of their handlers.
Pashtun Tahafuz Movement – Origin and Rise
The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) is one such example of grassroots activism. What started off as an angry protest by a few young folks against the killing of an innocent Pashtun youth in Karachi at the hands of an infamous police officer have now become a movement lobbying for revamping the national security and foreign policy of Pakistan (especially vis-à-vis Afghanistan). It does not stop there. The movement goes as far as pitting Pashtun’s against the military junta, airing secessionist tendencies and promoting sub-nationalism.
The Good PTM
Be that as it may, the movement still has some sane voices. These voices constitute what we can call, the “Good PTM”. The folks of “Good PTM” are those who voice their concerns for the redressal of Pashtun grievances, believe in talks with the government for the alleviation of their sufferings, and look towards the state for salvation from their miseries.
Read more: What is the future of PTM?
These folks remain committed to furthering their demands within the constitutional bounds of Pakistan. Although, all of the leadership of the PTM talks about upholding of the Constitution and protest for the constitutional rights of Pashtuns, yet some of their leaders subliminally embed their ideology of Pan-Pashtunism (referred to as “Lar o Bar Yo Afghan” in Pashtu) in their speeches and rhetoric.
So, who are actually the folks of Good PTM? The Mehsud Tahafuz Movement (MTM) – the original youth movement for Pashtun rights protection, Youth of Waziristan group and those individuals and subgroups of North and South Waziristan whose only motive for activism is the remedy of deep-rooted problems of the Pashtun belt can be categorized as good PTM. They are against the hijacking of the PTM and averse to its embroilment in issues that does not lie in its scope. Hence, their only concern and reason for resistance is to alleviate the problems of their people.
Capitalizing on those feelings, they then build a narrative of “us versus them” to fuel their politics of hatred. The leaders of this bloc remain committed to looking towards Afghanistan for guidance.
The Bad PTM
The “Bad PTM”, on the other hand, is the group of people who pursue a grand agenda. Their resistance towards the state is driven by their personal interest and the interest of their handlers. Instead of identifying the socio-economic problems of their people, they talk more about the issues irrelevant to the original cause of the PTM. They are more concerned about poking holes in the foreign policy of Pakistan, remaining heedless to the history and geo-strategic environment of our country.
Their sloganeering is not only reckless but also highly dangerous. Through their carefully-crafted slogans and mantras, they invoke a feeling of distrust, animosity, and alienation in their followers. Capitalizing on those feelings, they then build a narrative of “us versus them” to fuel their politics of hatred. The leaders of this bloc remain committed to looking towards Afghanistan for guidance.
The internal tug-of-war between good and bad PTM is underway. As of now, the bad PTM seems to be on the winning side for the obvious reason: sensationalism has a way of inspiring people; it usually does not last long but delivers the much-needed results during its finite time. Be that as it may, one thing is pretty clear: Bad PTM is swiftly losing its relevance among ordinary Pashtuns. They are bent on making themselves irreconcilable leaving the ground open for the sane voices within the PTM to emerge as the representatives of the Pashtuns of the tribal areas.
Ahsan Hamid Durrani is an Islamabad based analyst with interest in socio-political issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.