Sana Ejaz, a member of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) on Tuesday told TOLOnews that a recent public gathering of the movement in the city of Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is part of an agenda to “internationalize our call for justice.”
“Despite a crackdown on our movement in several ways--even on social media--by the Pakistan army, our movement’s members delivered our message to the people through social media,” Ejaz said, adding: "In 2019 our movement was frequently harassed and suppressed.”
She said that Sunday's gathering of the movement sent a message that despite “all the pressures we will fight for our people’s rights.”
“Our movement was warned to stop gathering and they (Pakistan authorities) cracked down on us,” said Ejaz.
On Sunday, the PTM held a public gathering in the city of Bannu, calling for unity among Pashtun leaders.
Pakistan’s Dawn.com reported that PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen and other leaders of the movement, Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, addressed the crowd.
PTM is a Pashtun-rights group that has called for the de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement within tribal areas. It has called for an end to “extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and unlawful detentions,” according to a Dawn report.
According to PTM members, almost 30,000 people from the two provinces – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan – have gone missing over the past 10 years.
In Sunday’s rally, Dawn reports, the movement’s leadership announced the formation of a jirga to convince Pashtun leaders to join the PTM to strengthen its cause and jointly fight for Pashtuns’ rights.
The News International, a Pakistani newspaper, on Tuesday reported that leaders of various political parties have expressed their willingness to work with PTM for the protection of the rights of Pashtuns.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan told the newspaper that he had raised the problems faced by Pashtuns at the highest forum in the country.
"Pakhtun (Pashtun) rights are being violated at every level in Pakistan...their undisputed rights provided in the Constitution (are) disputed," he added.
Sikandar Sherpao said that in principle, Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) was ready to sit with anyone who raised the issues faced by Pashtuns.
QWP would work with anyone who wants to work for Pakhtun rights, but it depends on the issues, said Sherpao. "It also depends on the methods of raising these issues. The framework should be discussed, and then a decision could be taken," he said.
Also, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Maulana Attaur Rehman told News International that their party could respond to the possibility of cooperation after the PTM leaders present their demands.
"The party leaders could take a decision on whether or not to work with PTM when we meet them and know their position," he added.
PTM has announced it will hold its next rally in Quetta on February 2 to observe the anniversary of Arman Lonri's death.
Arman Lonri allegedly died during a police crackdown on a sit-in in Loralai last year.