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Pakistan Zindabad Movement: Turning tide against the new wave of sub-nationalism

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Pakistan Zindabad Movement held a rally in support of the Pakistan Army in Pajagai near Ring Road on Tuesday. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Member Provincial Assembly Javed Naseem had organized the rally that was attended by people from Khyber Pashtunkhwa and FATA.

Waving national flags, hundreds of supporters of newly formed Pakistan Zindabad Movement gathered in the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and voiced their support for the country’s armed forces fighting militancy. MNA Ayesha Gulalai, members of provincial assembly and tribal chiefs from the federally-administered tribal areas (FATA) joined the rally which was attended by hundreds of people from across the province.

The speakers included PTI MPA Obaidullah Mayar, Khyber Pashtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KPCCI) President Zahidullah Shinwari, former MPAs Atifur Rehman and Ibrahim Qasmi, Major (R) Naeem, Member National Assembly Ayesha Gulalai, former Senator Rashid Ahmed Khan from Kurram Agency and Malik Banat Khan from South Waziristan.

PTM social media propaganda has been found to be based on misinformation and falsehood, utilizing pictures from Afghanistan as being from Pakistan. In the end, it seems that the PTM’s divisive rhetoric has kick started a reaction in other parts of Pashtun society who have countered it with a Pakistan Zindabad Movement.

The speakers highlighted the sacrifices of the Pakistan Army in restoration of peace in the country and said that the rally was organized to inform the masses about the threats to the state from anti-state elements. Speaking on the occasion, Zahid Shinwari said that terrorism had affected businesses in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. He said that the security forces had restored peace, and rehabilitated and restored local business activities.

Malik Banat Khan said the Pashtuns should know that the path of confrontation with the state would result in death and destruction. He advised the Pashtun youth not to fall prey to anti-state propagandas. A young and enthusiastic speaker urged the Pashtuns to fight those who try to promote western and Indian culture. “I urge the brave Pashtuns to fight against those who play Indian songs,” he maintained.

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According to analysts, the movement appears to be an attempt to counter the PTM which emerged as a leading voice for missing persons after the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud in a “staged encounter” in Karachi in January this year. The PTM is regarded with suspicion by many while retains some support from mainly reactionary segments of Balochistan and KPK.

The PTM has had murky beginnings. Initially titled as Mehsud Tahafuz Movement, it got support from the family of the murdered Naqeebullah on non-ethnic lines. But afterwards, it turned into an ethnonationalist movement with anti-state rhetoric. Many analysts stress that the leader of the PTM Manzoor Pashteen is a front man for various old style Pashtun sub nationalist outfits like the ANP and Mehmood Achakzai’s PKMAP. Manzoor Ahmed, uses the name Manzoor ‘Pashteen’ (pronunciation of the word ‘Pashtun’ in Waziristani dialect) instead of using his tribe’s name.

MNA Ayesha Gulalai, members of provincial assembly and tribal chiefs from the federally-administered tribal areas (FATA) joined the rally which was attended by hundreds of people from across the province.

The support of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has also raised many red flags. Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan President facing serious security challenges and ethnic divisions in his country, also announced his support for the sit-in. In a tweet, he claimed that the protest was a response to his remarks after recent terrorist attacks in Kabul when he called for Afghans and people of the region to join hands in the fight against terrorism and fundamentalism. Pakistan wasn’t amused and it reacted by terming Ghani’s comments an interference in its internal affairs.

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Many also assert that it is a front for the ANP and PKMAP in order to entice the voters of KPK away from the currently ruling PTI. Many point out the fact of the presence of ANP members like Bushra Gohar in the ranks of the PTM. Yet this assertion is negated by many on the basis that the PTM is a Pakhtu specific human rights movement and the fact that Imran Khan addressed a PTM sit-in in Islamabad.

However the PTM has been a rather divisive force. Many of its social media members have engaged in outright secessionist dialogue as opposed to the mainline of the PTM of protest within the constitution. Furthermore, PTM social media propaganda has been found to be based on misinformation and falsehood, utilizing pictures from Afghanistan as being from Pakistan. In the end, it seems that the PTM’s divisive rhetoric has kick started a reaction in other parts of Pashtun society who have countered it with a Pakistan Zindabad Movement.

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