June 19, 2023

Staff report


Ali Wazir, a leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and Member of the National Assembly (MNA), has reportedly been taken into custody by security forces in North Waziristan.

A source close to Ali Wazir told Voicepk.net that he was apprehended by individuals in army uniforms at a checkpost and was later transferred to Miranshah.
“We have not been provided with any information regarding the nature of the case or cases for which Ali Wazir has been arrested,” he said.

When contacted, the North Waziristan Police denied that the MNA is in their custody.
Wazir secured a seat in the National Assembly from NA 50 North Waziristan tribal district in the 2018 general elections. He has been a vocal critic of enforced disappearances and the target killing of Pashtuns, as well as the military’s alleged involvement in politics and administrative matters.

Due to his passionate speeches, Wazir has been charged with sedition and anti-terrorism multiple times. In December 2020, he was arrested by police in Peshawar and later transferred to Karachi where he was nominated in five separate first information reports (FIRs) for allegedly making anti-state remarks. He remained in prison until February 2023.
Roughly four months later, he has once again been detained.

Meanwhile PTM has been staging a sit-in camp outside the Miranshah Cantonment for the past two weeks, in protest of the enforced disappearance of its three activists, namely Eid Rehman, Zakim, and Jalal Wazir.

On June 16, Wazir and four other PTM leaders, including chairman Manzoor Pashteen, were issued summons for June 23 by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cyber Crime Wing Peshawar for allegedly inciting the public against the Armed Forces through social media.
On June 17, police arrested PTM activist Alam Zain Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan in an early morning raid, and subsequently charged him for offences under the Anti-Narcotics Act. The FIR stated that the police found over 1,000 grams of charas in his possession.

PTM’s leaders state that Wazir’s arrest, as well as the arrest and disappearances of its members, is part of an ongoing crackdown against the movement which aims to instill fear in people protesting against the state’s heavy-handedness.

In his address in the National Assembly (NA), chairman of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and MNA Mohsin Dawar stated that his exact whereabouts are currently unknown. He urged the NA Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf to inquire into the manner of Wazir’s arrest.

Afrasiab Khattak, a veteran politician and rights activist, expressed his concern that state institutions are playing ‘strategic games’ in the erstwhile FATA region, and that those who dare to question this are being threatened or detained.

“After the merger of FATA, the civilian administration was supposed to take over the newly merged districts, but they are still under the control of military authorities. The Army has control over everything, including security,” Khattak remarked.
Khattak stated that the youth of the area have become politically active, and are demanding their constitutional rights as well as the development of their region. He added that the youth are tired of the thousands of lost lives and widespread destruction of infrastructure wrought by decades of militancy.
“The actions, including the arrests and disappearances of PTM activists, are provocative, but the youth will not resort to armed struggle. They have adopted a non-violent approach in accordance with the guidelines of Bacha Khan. The state must reciprocate, and refrain from violence against peaceful and democratic activists,”
he emphasized.


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