Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) An Emerging Political Power Base - BY: General Mirza Aslam Beg

imagePashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM)
An Emerging Political Power Base

General Mirza Aslam Beg
Former COAS Pakistan

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PTM is an interesting development, led by 26 years old Manzoor Pashteen from South Waziristan, “attempting to turn the political banality of Pashtun identity into a phenomenon.” It needs to be understood in its wider dimensions, as it impacts the Pashtuns living both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a political movement and demands political sagacity to mainstream it. The leading personalities and political figures of Pakistan and specially the President of Afghanistan, have commented on PTM, making it easy to understand the phenomena:

• President of Afghanistan, Mr. Ashraf Ghani
“It is a historical campaign. A positive initiative against fundamentalism. Morally binds on each one of us to support them. It is linked to the philosophy of non-violence preached by the late freedom-fighter Bacha Khan. A sacred struggle for everyone in Afghanistan to support it. By supporting Pashteen morally didn’t amount to interference in Pakistan’s affairs as the Pashtuns living on the other side of the Durand Line border “are our own people.”
• The Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan
“PTM movement is part of the hybrid war, engineered by our enemies.” COAS statement is a natural reaction to President Ashraf Ghani’s statement and the PTM slogan mongering, such as: “This terrorism is backed by uniform, particularly the intelligence outfits.” Such language by PTM leadership undermines national institution and derails the fundamental issue.”
• Reaction of Pashtun Political Parties
- ANP. Has publically supported PTM initiative, though cautiously.
- PkMAP. Supports the movement, despite the fact that PTM activists support reforms in FATA and its merger with KPK, whereas PkMAP is opposed to merger.
- JUI(F) and JUI(S). Both the parties have yet not supported PTM, and most probably they would follow the government instance and the military high command, in view of the cases registered against PTM leaders.
- Other Political Parties. PTI and PPP have distanced themselves from the movement for the time being.

Our Print Media. By and large it has welcomed the movement:
• “The PTM has gained immense momentum in recent weeks. The well-attended rally in Peshawar (held on April 8) indicated that PTM and its cause resonate with a large number of people within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.”
• “Time and again, Pashteen and his followers have said that their movement is within the ambit of the Pakistani constitution. In fact the movement asks for due process, recovery of missing persons, ending extra-judicial killings and abolishing the apartheid in FATA, are all essentially constitutional demands.”
• “We do not have to look at the PTM from a narrow security-centric perspective. The youngsters leading the PTM, and the masses following them, have suffered more than any other community at the hands of terrorist outfits and flawed state policies in the past four decades. The PTM is a classic case of civil society activism, emerging from the grassroots and its demands are completely within the ambit of the Pakistani Constitution. Once met, these demands will strengthen the federation. In doing so, the PTM will help us achieve what the mainstream political forces of the country have been trying for a while, but haven’t yet been able to.”
• “Unlike the ANP and PkMAP, Manzoor Pashteen-led PTM is a grassroots social movement that has no political baggage to carry to compromise on its demands that are the fundamental rights of the citizens in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

The FATA issue is central to PTM movement, therefore question of its merger is to be decided, keeping in mind the issue of Swat and Dir, which were brought under the Pakistani law in 1969, but within ten years time people demanded repeal of the order, because, due to inordinate delays in dispensation of justice, social distortions were emerging. They protested and agitated “which were dubbed as revolt” to be curbed by state power, which produced rebels like Maulana Sufi Mohammad, Fazlullah, Khalid Khorasani and others. The agitation became contagious and spread to the adjoining tribal areas, forcing the army to enter Waziristan, thus making terror endemic to our day to day life.

The PTM deserves compassion and understanding. “The rise of PTM as a growing social movement is a testament of dynamic factors that define contemporary Pakistan: assertion of youth voice, urbanization and new media, among others.” It is an opportunity for the state to show that it cares and is willing to engage with a segment of population that feels neglected, angry and mistreated. In fact, it strengthens the strategic linkage between Pakistan and Afghanistan created by the Afghan Taliban Freedom Movement – the dauntless power, which extends its sway from Karachi, inhabited by over five million Pashtuns, to Hindukush mountains and beyond to Aamu Darya. In fact, it is a practical manifestation of Mullah Umar’s logic of conflict; he described in his message in 2003: “Pakistan has joined our enemy’s war on us, yet we do not consider Pakistan as our enemy, because we have a common destiny and our national security interests are inter-linked.”

Pashtuns living in Pakistan and Afghanistan are loyal to the countries they belong to, yet they are one in their struggle for freedom and none could dare recognize the Durand Line, underlining the strange Pashtun psyche, which Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah understood and gave them the responsibility to defend the borders. Now is the time to revert to Quaid’s logic.

Posted on Apr 21, 18 | 11:31 pm