Nearly 15% of population of Pakistan (around 200 million) belongs to Pashtun ethnicity. Time and again our Pashtun brothers and sisters have proved their loyalty and love for Pakistan and sacrificed the most be it in terms of Pakistan movement or later whenever any rough time and situation arises in the border region or when the military operation was conducted in the North West region and they had to become IDPs. However, the slogan “Da Sanga Azadi Da” (what kind of freedom is this?) is voice of many Pashtuns these days and its echo can now be heard in whole country and raising many questions in minds of all Pakistanis. PTM – Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement; is the recent conflict the state and people are facing these days.
Looking back, the journey of PTM is not very long, being established by 8 university students in May 2014 with very basic demand of removing the landmines from tribal areas which had claimed more than 40 lives. The case of NaqeebUllah Mehsud and controversy of Rao Anwar, unfortunate incident of Tahir Dawar and all those missing persons cases brought the PTM in spotlight since 2018. This was the time PTM started gaining support from masses and people joined and rendered their support for them as the demands seemed genuinely worth considering. At the same time, the controversies and scandals started surfacing regarding PTM’s chairman and leadership– the Khaisor event and allegations of Matorkey brothers, and among them there are now voices of foreign hand involved behind PTM activities. Between this scramble of truths and politics and controversies and messed up situation, the major concern is its impact on a common young mind particularly Pashtun youth and those from the tribal belt – now part of KPK.
This goes without saying that the love for our forces and homeland runs in our blood and there is sheer intolerance for all anti state sentiments in our hearts. Amongst all the recent developments including the stance of government, the voice of Pashtuns, the statements of Pakistan Army, the media talk and analysis and all the other voices of political parties and human rights organizations makes a young mind inquisitive and curiosity of finding the facts and truth with the debate of patriotism and treachery reaches its peak. Being a young student, I have my own set of questions.
The PTM’s influential circle is mostly youth and young adults. University students and other educated/ well aware young adults who have paid a hefty price throughout their lives owing to a tiresome battle for peace they are fighting and now torn between militants and military. The sacrifices these people have made by leaving their houses and land and going through the struggles of rehabilitation and are still being scrutinized for what the militants and terrorist groups have done to them and their areas. The required support from government and other institutions is lacking for them. The basic demands of PTM is therefore voice of their hearts and these grievances have now become deep rooted and serves as a fertile land for all the anti state powers; be it the foreign agencies and militant groups from across border, regional politics and all others who have evil plans for our dear homeland and exploitation for them becomes very easy. Foreign funding, media access (as local media is not giving them coverage), international and national support at various forums etcetera are the baits being used.
Considering the severity of situation, the state cannot just sit idle and has to take actions which are bound to be disliked by the targeted community. The culprits or black sheep will get their due share but the sufferers are only going to be those young minds and people who once again put their trust in the wrong hands maybe, or whose sentiments and emotions have been exploited once again by people of some other motives who got off track by the period of time and nobody will claim responsibility of all this messed up situation from both ends – the PTM or the state.
Every new day is bringing new things and new dimensions to this conflict but need of time is to secure the future of our precious Pashtuns who love Pakistan no less than others and who are being held hostage time and again previously by the militants who are now again trying to reclaim them directly or indirectly and now by some other nationalists who are accusing the armed forces openly for all their issues (Ye jo dehshatgardi hai; iske peeche wardi hai). The correct answer to this puzzle lies only in genuine and considerate resolution of their mainstream problems. To share and make them understand the limitations (if there are any) so that they themselves can fight the elements who try to take advantage from plight of others. Hoping things to turn out the best way possible for resolution of this conflict and may our Pashtun brothers and sisters experience Azaadi the way they want!
*Rubeha Shaheen, Student of Defense and Diplomatic Studies