Only a few hours after the Pakistani army warned the leadership of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) against playing in the hands of the enemy, the PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen expressed his outrage at the Pakistani media, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”.
On Monday, the Pakistani army warned that it will no longer tolerate the way the PTM is protesting.
Asif Ghafoor, a spokesman to the Pakistani armed forces, accused PTM members of taking money from other countries.
“Those who are playing in others hands, their time is up. Their time is up,” said Ghafoor, adding that possible action against the PTM would not harm anyone.
“On the PTM website, they have got a number that states the amount of funds they have collected from Pashtuns around the world. But tell us how much money did you get from the NDS (Afghan National Directorate of Security) to run your campaign? How much money did RAW (India’s Research and Analysis Wing) give you for the first dharna in Islamabad?,” Dawn News quoted Asif Ghafoor as saying on Monday.
But, PTM members argue that the movement is protesting terrorism and wants justice for Pashtuns in Pakistan.
Mohsin Dawar, a PTM leader and the incumbent member of the Pakistani parliament, rejected the allegations levelled against the PTM and said his party was ready for accountability before the parliament only.
Dawar said that PTM was being targeted for making the Pakistan army accountable on the issues of “missing persons in tribal areas, extrajudicial killings and targeted killings”.
He said army spokesman had levelled the same old allegations of a traitor and receiving foreign funding against the PTM which were used against those who had questioned the role of the security forces in the past.
“Similar allegations were levelled against Bacha Khan and Wali Khan,” he added.
“We welcome a full investigation into our finances. Also, hope that DG ISPR will support a truth and reconciliation commission that finds evidence on his empathy for missing persons. We wd also b very thankful if he gives the list of terrorists killed and captured in operations too,” a PTM leader Mohsin Dawar said in a tweet in response to Ghafoor’s statement.
PTM leaders have vowed to continue their civil protests until their demands are made by the Pakistani government.
“No amount of provocation will deter us from our peaceful protest. Our recent Miranshah jalsa was an example of its success. Not only did it strengthen our resolve it has also delivered a message. Would just like to remind that our time is not up, it has just started,” Dawar said.
According to PTM members, almost 30,000 people from the two provinces – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan – have gone missing over the past 10 years and Pakistan’s army and ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, appear to be behind the disappearances.
Many of Pakistan’s 30 million ethnic Pashtun’s hail originally from the borderlands with Afghanistan, where the Pakistani Taliban controlled swathes of territory until they were pushed out by military operations in 2009 and 2014.