By Farzana Shah
Pashtun Tahafuz Movement that had evolved from Mehsud Tahafuz Movement, for the last over two years has taken the social media by storm. The state as well as different political groups besides media repeatedly tried to listen to the grievances of PTM. The movement despite claiming an apolitical platform had been acting as a political party allowed to hold rallies in all parts of the country.
Despite addressing their genuine demands, the group continues to enlist new demands of which many are directly in clash with national security, such as release of facilitators of militants rounded up in search operations.
A careful analysis of last three years helps understand the essence of PTM demands vs Reality Matrix that it is just a pressure group that thrives primarily on issues and grievances of common Pashtuns. For example, the Justice for Naqibullah demand witnessed progress in the form of Rao Anwar facing Judicial Course; JIT held Rao Anwar responsible for the killing.
Check-posts were significantly reduced gradually since the very start of PTM demand. In June 2018, the number of check-posts were 399, by September 2018 it came down to 353, by January 2019 the number fell to 306, by June 2019 these were 270 and by November 2019 the count fell to as low as 180 check-posts, which shows a sharp reduction of 219 (54.88%) in a span of just 18 months.
Similar is the situation with regard to demining in tribal districts.As per official data 42% of the area in tribal districts had been cleared by February this year by the teams of Pakistan; about 48,000 mines have been removed by the army.
In South Waziristan alone, about 45 teams are working on clearance and have neutralized more than 20,000 explosives devices.
These landmines were laid mostly by fleeing terrorists, when Pakistani forces launched operations in tribal belt. These were scattered by militants all over Pak-Afghan bordering areas, whereas those laid by the forces have clear demarcation with barbwire around and warning signs for local people, cautioning them not to come near such marked areas.
Demining effort commenced in October 2017 and initially Total Area was 173 Square Kilometers. 129 teams cleared about 112 Square Kilometers area.
Regular awareness campaigns about landmines were initiated by the state in tribal districts, concentrating more on population center initially. Special compensation & treatment was provided in CMHs at Army’s expense, including provision of prosthetic limbs for affected individuals.
As far equal opportunities for tribal areas are concerned, the government has already set aside a Rs100 billion annual development fund for erstwhile FATA.
The post-merger process continues with administration being handed over to the concerned departments. Police-stations and courts have been established with 7 District & Session Judges, 14 Additional Session Judges, 7 Senior Civil Judges and 24 Civil Judges already appointed and working at respective Tribal Districts. By 2019, 25 Police Stations were established. 26,516 Levies out of 58110 proposed strength have already been merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police.
CLCP (Citizen Loss Compensation Program) in Merged Districts is in progress and displaced families are being compensated regularly.
Above discussion clearly indicates that by and large most of the initial and genuine demands of PTM have already been fulfilled. Now having been left with no real issues, PTM has started using ethnic card as a final tool after every incident, whether it is a natural death or a target killing which may ordinarily be just a law & order issue in a settled area.
The most recent example is the unfortunate death of ex-Senator Usman Kakar from PkMAP, which was spinned by likes of Mohsin Dawar for own stake, calling it a murder.
With the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the urgency in anti-Pakistan agenda has been further sped up by our enemies, being duly supported by nationalists elements on both sides of international border. These same nationalist elements had been running Pashtunistan project since decades without a success. This time they have a comparatively wider audience due to easy reach to social media platforms with international players from India and Afghanistan.
PTM leaders standing in National Assembly continue to blame Pakistan for every failure in Afghanistan on one hand, while on the other the members of Afghan Parliament fearing for their bleak future post US withdrawal, are calling for attacking Pakistan and Pakistanis.
Just a few days back, Abdul Rauf Shpun, a member of the Afghan parliament called for targeting Pakistan, asking Taliban to initiate Jehad against Pakistan. Sitting in Afghan parliament, Shpun called for destruction of Pakistan, declaring it a core enemy of Afghanistan.
He also called on Manzoor Pashteen and PTM to help attacking Pakistan. A sharp similarity between PTM and Afghan officials, when it comes to pointing finger at Pakistan for Pashtuns’ miseries is appalling.
The perpetual silence of PTM over such overtures by Afghan officials and members of Afghan parliament against Pakistan indicates that PTM is not interested in peace for Pashtuns at all, but has some divergent motives of it’s own.
From sitting with Pakistani parliamentarians to tearing down Pakistani flags, calling for bombing Punjab and demanding withdrawal of forces from Waziristan, Pashtun Tahafuz Movement stands utterly exposed. Those who were prompting PTM, to instigate ethnic clashes in the country are losing their investment and confidence in PTM as expected; a panic is visible in their rank and files.
Already hit hard by terrorism along Pak-Afghan border, Pashtuns of Pakistan cannot afford another spade of such controversial costly experiments in terms of human and financial losses, falsely fabricated by vested elements in the name of purported Pashtun rights, every now and then.