News Analysis |
Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday said that while the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) is itself “not an issue”, certain individuals “playing in foreign hands” are exploiting the sentiments of people who have suffered hardships because of terrorism. The COAS made these statements while interacting with students of various universities at the Corps Auditorium during a visit to Peshawar.
According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement the COAS said that “PTM itself is not an issue. The issues being highlighted [by the movement] are genuine and natural in post-operation environment. However, few individuals playing in foreign hands are by design exploiting sentiments of the people who have actually suffered at the hands of terrorism and now need care.”
Army Chief’s statements came after two days of the Director-General ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor’s press conference where he said that the “time is up” for PTM. General Ghafoor talked at length about the PTM, its demands, and links with anti-Pakistan forces in India and Afghanistan. He advised PTM to remain within their constitutionally determined limits and must not challenge the writ of the state. “RAW and NDS are funding the PTM. Is it not true?” asked DG ISPR.
Are Statements of COAS and DG ISPR Contradictory?
DG ISPR responded from his personal Twitter account to former Dawn editor Abbas Nasir who raised question after the COAS statements that if the stance of two on the issue was different. Maj General Ghafoor said, “There isn’t any difference between the both. You need to have an understanding to interpret correctly. I also talked about individuals.”
There isn’t any difference between the both. You need to have an understanding to interpret correctly. That might require presence in Pakistan. I also talked about individuals. Anything else? https://t.co/qT8HifDrMy
— Asif Ghafoor (@peaceforchange) May 2, 2019
In another tweet he posted a short video clip of statements of Prime Minister Imran Khan, COAS, and from his own press conference; all being on the same page, saying that PTM itself has legit concerns that will be sorted out but certain elements/individuals are exploiting the movement.
For @abbasnasir59 and alike. PTM isn’t an issue. Only few individuals are exploiting sentiments of our Pashtun brethren on foreign influence
پي ټي ايم کومه ستونزه نده،يوازې یو څو کسان د خپلو شخصي کټو په خاطر زمونږ پښتنو وروڼو له احساساتو ګټه اخلي pic.twitter.com/Q1BWpHJ1IB
— Asif Ghafoor (@peaceforchange) May 2, 2019
How PTM shall be Handled?
Political commentators and analysts saw the statement positively and expected that the state shall look into the matter with utmost care since the movement is comprised of young people and the use of force will create more problems than sorting the issue it. Hussain Nadim, academic and political commentator, said “That’s a big statement coming out of the COAS. I’m glad there is some nuance developing now on the issue of #PTM”
Mr. Nadim recently noted that “It’s a strictly political issue and must be dealt by the sitting govt, not the Army. The unnecessary securitisation of #PTM by elevating it as a “national security threat” has been a terrible policy. It could and should have been avoided”
Dr, Moeed Pirzada, prominent political commentator, also recently noted that “we know that “Spring Revolutions” originate and evolve less on ground and more on media and cyberspace and sudden interest of publications from New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Policy to Asia Times Online and many many others points towards systematic efforts to create a “narrative”. BBC Pashto, VOA –Deeva and France 24 all have been overactive – and all are state-funded broadcasters. This is being reinforced by plethora of newer western web sites that are all using different words but more or less the same substance, a consistent message moving from different directions to create and reinforce a mental reality. This is further reinforced by teams of activists connected with NGO’s and international media inside Pakistan.”
Sources claim that the civilian government is also in contact with the leadership of the PTM to advise them not to go against the state. A special Senate Committee has also been formed to address the issues of PTM. According to a statement issued by the committee, the forum was “created so that solutions can be found to the problems of the aggrieved sections of the society for promoting national cohesion and integration”.
Analysts suggest that concerns of PTM shall be resolved on a priority basis as grieving Pashtuns are vulnerable and easy target of the exploitation at the hands of anti-state actors.