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Senate Committee welcomes PTM leaders: Pashtuns feel happy & relaxed


News Analysis |

In a rather surprising development, a Senate Committee headed by Barrister Saif assured Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement’s (PTM) representatives, MNA Mohsin Dawar and Manzoor Pashteen, of addressing their reservations in an in-camera briefing held on Tuesday, local media reported.  It was the very first formal meeting between the Senate members which lasted for three hours where both the parties openly expressed their views over a series of issues, said a statement issued by the Senate secretariat.

Senator Mushahid Hussain termed the meeting as ‘historic’ and praised PTM leader for being charismatic and well-articulated. “Historic meeting at Parliament of Senate Special Committee where PTM Delegation invited to address Parliamentarians, with articulate & charismatic Manzoor Pashteen giving detailed presentation on developments in FATA, MNA Mohsin Dawar also present; candid & cordial dialogue,” he tweeted.

PTM has organized many rallies and protests across the country since its emergence. It is pertinent to note here that PTM’s protests are not reported on the country’s electronic media for their anti-state posture.

Mr. Hussain also said that the senators were interested to listen to the demands of the PTM. “Senators said ‘we want to listen & learn’; this first step of dialogue with PTM in the premises of Parliament is a ‘glimmer of hope’, + positive signs are PTM now also in Parliament, upcoming elections in FATA & welcome change in Pakistan Afghan Policy, discarding old mindset!”

Moreover, the senators demanded the PTM to nominate a focal person for meetings with the representatives and present their demands in writing to the committee. Mr. Pashteen reportedly agreed with the demands and expressed his confidence in the committee members.

Emergence of the PTM and its Demands

The PTM was not known before a sit-in in Islamabad where the people of South Waziristan gathered to protest against the extrajudicial killing of a youth Naqeebullah Mehsud who was a shopkeeper and an aspiring model. Rao Anwar, former SSP, staged an encounter to kill the young man in Karachi.

Read more: Why ‘freedom of speech’ doesn’t exist for PTM in Pakistan?

PTM comprises of disaffected Pashtuns and is led by a young Pashtun, Manzoor Pashteen, against alleged enforced disappearances, landmines in FATA, as well as the mistreatment of the Pakhtun community.

It is claimed by the leaders of the movement that in past decade more than 32, 000 Pashtuns have gone missing from FATA alone. The forced disappearances claim the PTM leaders, are against the constitution of Pakistan.

PTM has organized many rallies and protests across the country since its emergence. It is pertinent to note here that PTM’s protests are not reported on the country’s electronic media for their anti-state posture. Many experts and political commentators believe that the PTM is being driven by the anti-state actors as the movement has gradually transformed from demanding constitutional rights to a group of people focused on maligning state institutes.

A member of the PTM spoke to GVS and commented on the development. “We are happy today. All Pashtuns are relaxed since the state of Pakistan has allowed us to present our demands before them,” he said.

Jan Achakzai, a prominent analyst, is critical of the meeting between the members of the Senate and the leadership of the PTM. “Lar-aw-Bar-one #Afghanistan under the portrait of Quaid Azam. Thanks, 2 these Senators, it will be a mainstream slogan instead of fringe as #PML-N discreetly & #PPP openly patronising #PTM to avenge Establishment 4 not backing them 2 power in 2018 & standing against corruption,” Achakzai tweeted.

Mr. Jan also slammed the PTM for its extreme language, saying “….generation of Waziristan’s former warring tribesmen spreading from erstwhile #FATA 2 Karachi; 7) #PTM inspired use of extreme language is pitching impressionable Pashtun youth against the state— way beyond the pale of freedom of speech: like #TLP which invited the ire…”

A member of the PTM spoke to GVS and commented on the development. “We are happy today. All Pashtuns are relaxed since the state of Pakistan has allowed us to present our demands before them,” he said. While commenting on the credibility of the Senate committee he said “it is for the first time that a committee of senators is officially listening to our grievances. We have full confidence in the said committee and hope it shall help us achieving our genuine demands,” he concluded.

Read more: Pashtun laborers killed in Afghanistan: Why is PTM silent?

Political commentators opine that it is a healthy sign for the progress and stability of Pakistan’s democracy under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.