News Analysis |
Corps Commander Peshawar Lt General Nazir Ahmad has said on Tuesday that some of the demands of the Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) are “genuine” and they need to be addressed within the framework of the constitution of Pakistan. Gen. Ahmad also said that Manzoor studied from an Army public school and he is ‘our son’. He is welcomed to come and discuss his issues with us, he further said.
Meanwhile, the Apex Committee of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which held its meeting on April 18, 2018, formed a high-powered Jirga, comprising politicians and local elders, which will hold talks with the PTM. The Jirga members also includes the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
33% reduction in Check posts in Fata
Journalists were further informed by Gen. Ahmad that the plan of the military is to remain in the second tier while the security is being handed over to the civil administration in Fata and Malakand division. “We will remain in the background for a period of three months for any location that has been handed over to the civil armed forces” a senior military official said during a briefing.
It is also worth mentioning that Manzoor Pashteen has announced that they will rally in Swat and a massive power show in Karachi on 12th of May has been announced by the PTM leader.
As of June 2016, there were 399 check posts in Fata, which by April 2018 have been reduced to 353, the plan for the future is to further reduce these check posts to 306 by June 2018 down to 270 by December this year, which is a 33% reduction in check posts.
In Malakand division, there were a total of 70 check posts in June 2016, by April 2018 the check posts have been reduced to 31, which will be further reduced to 25 by this June and only 7 will be left by December 2018.
Demining in Fata
According to the military sources, There are 42 teams that have been deployed in Fata to defuse IED’s in the area, 64% of the demining process was completed which shows that 158 minefields were cleared out of a total of 246. “There have been no mines left back by the military,” said the Corps Commander Peshawar “these are remnants of the terrorists that fled they should not be put into the militaries account,” said Lt Gen Butt. “It takes 2 hours along with hectic equipment to clear an area of 1 square kilometer.”
Demands of Manzoor Pashteen:
Initially, Manzoor Pashteen and PTM demanded the immediate arrest of former SSP Rao in an alleged murder case of a Pashtun youth, Naqeebullah Mehsud, in Karachi. But with the passage of time, PTM gained momentum and their demands increased.
The Apex Committee of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which held its meeting on April 18, 2018, formed a high-powered Jirga, comprising politicians and local elders, which will hold talks with the PTM.
PTM demanded; removal of landmines, information about missing individuals and reconciliation was demanded in the Lahore rally. But PTM’s demand to seek an international guarantee if the state of Pakistan decides to negotiate with them, and signs an agreement, raised alarm bells in minds. PTM has also repeatedly used harsh words against the army. This not only made the PTM controversial but also reduced its sympathizers in Punjab and other parts of Pakistan. Most wondered where was PTM (and its leaders) while TTP killed, beheaded and lashed people all across FATA and Swat and controlled the territory to attack Peshawar, areas in KP and all across Pakistan.
Initially, in response to PTM propaganda, Pakistan’s armed forces remained silent but recently army chief gave a statement referring to the issue, but without mentioning the movement’s name directly. Army chief categorically stated that ‘engineered protests’ won’t be allowed to destabilize Pakistan. He also warned also those working against Pakistan.
But now there appears, on the face of it, a shift in army’s position. In reality it’s not. Army, intelligence institutions and strategic community continue to see that NDS and Indian agency, RAW, are attempting to use grievances in FATA for larger regional agenda. However Pakistani institutions also realize that there are genuine grievances of local populations and it is important to engage their multitiered leadership within the fold of constitution. Pashtuns live in almost every part of Pakistan and their problems are, as crops commanders have mentioned, ‘genuine’; so, they need to be addressed to normalize political temperature in the country. It is also worth mentioning that Manzoor Pashteen has announced that they will rally in Swat and a massive power show in Karachi on 12th of May has been announced by the PTM leader. In this situation, army’s invitation for a dialogue with the PTM leader is a welcome but cautious move to resolve the issue peacefully. It remains to be seen how Manzoor Pashteen and those around him respond to these initiatives. If PTM is a genuine movement to resolve public grievances then it will behave in a different fashion from an entity that has a script controlled from outside.