The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) held a public gathering in the city of Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday, calling for unity among Pashtun leaders, Pakistani news agencies reported.
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. 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. Pakistan’s army and ISI--the Pakistani intelligence agency--appear to be behind the disappearances, according to the PTM.
However, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has said that the number of missing individuals is 1,532.
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.
“We want the unity of Pashtuns,” said Manzoor Pashteen, while addressing the gathering, as quoted by Dawn.
“Pashtuns have suffered for long and are still suffering,” he said, asking that Pashtun political leaders unite. Pashteen added that they were not opposing any political party or Pashtun leader.
“We want peace and justice, but unfortunately, new waves of targeted killings have been seen in (the) former tribal belt and justice is not being served,” Pashteen said.
Pashteen said that PTM is a civil movement, not a political party, and will continue to struggle for the rights of Pakhtuns.
“I assure you, PTM will always stand by you in any difficult time," Pashteen told the gathering.
The report says that the gathering was also addressed by Arman Loni's sister. Loni was a prominent PTM leader who died allegedly during a police crackdown during a sit-in in Balochistan's Loralai on February 2, 2019.
PTM will hold a public gathering in Baluchistan in February on the anniversary of Loni's death.