December 5, 2023

By Xari Jalil


LAHORE

An entire day after Pushtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen was ‘arrested’ from Chaman, he has neither been presented in a court, nor are his whereabouts known. Last known, Pashteen was handed over to the Dera Ismail Khan police by the Balochistan police, however after that he was taken away from there to an undisclosed location, inform PTM members.

“We have held several protests today for his release, but nothing has come of it,” says PTM member Badshah Pashteen.”Protests have taken place in Quetta, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Bannu, Waziristan and Peshawar.”

On Monday, news came of the PTM leader’s arrest over allegations of firing at the security forces. However PTM members especially those who were present with Manzoor Pashteen at the time, categorically deny these allegations, saying that it was the state’s security forces that had begun firing at them and not the other way round.

“Our procession was fired at, while a passerby woman was also injured I believe,” said PTM’s Balochistan President Noor Bacha while speaking to Voicepk. Bacha was also in the convoy and said that he saw Levies, the police and the Frontier Corps present at a location near where the Chaman sit-in was taking place. There were also officers in plain clothes. “They stopped the vehicle in which Manzoor Pashteen was sitting and they took him with them.”

Bacha said that the LEAs had taken Pashteen to the Dera Ismail Khan police on Monday morning and had promised that he would be presented in court.

“From then on, we do not know where they have kept him,” he said.

PARTICIPATION IN PROTESTS

According to Badshah Pashteen and Noor Bacha, Manzoor Pashteen had been in Chaman for the last five days protesting with the people over the border lockdown. Olus Yar Wazir, the PTM spokesperson in Islamabad, verifies this information.

“Manzoor also gave speeches in Chaman. Right after the speeches as he decided to leave for Turbat (via Quetta), security forces opened fire at him and arrested him,” he informed. He added that the speeches had not been objectionable at all in-fact were ‘mild’ compared to his past speeches.

“He spoke of the humanitarian crisis that was brewing in the region and how the people here are being bereft of their livelihood,” he said.

According to a published report in Dawn, Chaman Deputy Commissioner Raja Athar Abbas had stated that the firing had begun from Manzoor Pashteen’s convoy. However, when Voicepk contacted him Abbas denied having spoken to Dawn and said that he could only confirm Pashteen’s arrest and nothing more.

At the same time, according to Zohaib Kabzai, Pashteen had been handed over to the Islamabad police. He had been kept under tight security in Qilla Saifullah overnight, and in the morning he was taken to Quetta and after legal proceedings, it was decided that he was to be given provincial exile.

“They are only trying to criminalize and label him. Why would he or his people need to open fire at the state’s security forces? Didn’t he know that he would be chased after that?” questions Olus Yar.

In a notification issued on December 5, Balochistan’s caretaker Minister of Information, Jan Achakzai rejected any accusations of firing at Manzoor Pashteen, and said that ‘the firing was carried out by one of Pashteen’s bodyguards, which injured a woman and a child passing by.

BAN ON ENTRY

Since the past few years, Manzoor Pashteen has been off and on denied entry in Balochistan, on the pretext of maintaining peace and stability in the province. The leader has been accused of making incendiary speeches against the state and its security institutions.

Senior member of HRCP Turbat, Ghani Parwaz says that this is his constitutional right to enter the province and take part in a peaceful protest.

“This is very wrong,” said Parwaz while speaking to Voicepk. “Actually the State wants to pit marginalized communities against each other, by criminalizing them and posing them as terrorists. They don’t want them to unite. When they saw a Pukhtun was coming to speak for Baloch rights they acted upon it.”

Olus Yar Wazir, spokesperson of PTM in Islamabad, also concurs.
“It is obvious they don’t want any sort of political mobility here. Our protest has been ongoing for 45 days. They don’t want to make a whole movement out of it.”

Local journalist Esap Baloch points out that the authorities did nothing when Pashteen was at the Chaman camp. However, as soon as he started off for the Turbat protest, they stopped him from going.

WIDESPREAD CONDEMNATION

Several quarters have strongly condemned the arrest and the ban on Manzoor Pashteen in Balochistan. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued its statement on Tuesday evening:

Human Rights organization Paank also condemned the entire situation:

Baloch Voice for Justice, another human rights organization based in Balochistan was also quick to condemn.

Balochistan National Party’s (BNP) leader Akhtar Mengal also expressed his ire at the situation.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here