The Crisis of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement in Pakistan


Security forces, yet again arrested Pashtun Tahafuzz Movement (PTM) leader and MNA Ali Wazir at Dumdel check post in North Waziristan while he was travelling to Razmak from Miranshah on June 19.

It may be recalled that Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cybercrime Circle Peshawar had started an inquiry against Wazir and PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen for allegedly using defamatory language and spreading propaganda against the institutions.

The PTM leader was released from Karachi jail earlier in February after being imprisoned for more than two years. He was under arrest since December 2020 in several sedition cases.

PTM leadership (Manzoor Pashteen, Ali Wazir, and Mohsin Dawar) have been arrested in the past several times under sections 506 (criminal intimidation), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 120-B (    criminal conspiracy), 124 (sedition) and 123-A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty). In this way, the movement has faced several impediments to the achievement of its goals, that are both vague and controversial but ostensibly tend to bring anarchy and incite ethnic fault lines in the state.

PTM came into being in its contemporary form in 2018. Before that, it existed as Mehsud Tahaffuz Movement since 2014. As a Pashtun rights movement, its demands ranged from reducing number of check posts in east-while FATA, de-mining of the region to the issue of forced disappearances-issues that were concomitant of Pakistan joining USA block in Global war on Terrorism as well as state’s anti-terrorism efforts and operations that followed.

Ex-FATA, due to its staggering lack of development and literacy rate became the foremost fallout of the war Pakistan forced itself into with the subsequent state’s inconsideration giving power to such hostile elements as that of PTM. While their demands are legitimate, the modus operandi of PTM casts serious aspersions on their ambitions and intentions towards states.

It would have been more effective if PTM had channeled its demands through diplomatic means-as two among its foremost leadership are MNAs from South and North Waziristan in the parliament. But rather than working for the sequestered socio-economic problems grappling ex-FATA, it implicated negative tendencies by enforcing upon the vulnerable Pashtun masses that such social upheavals represent state’s systemic prejudice against the entire Pashtun population of the country. This is also one of the reasons of their narrative failing to appeal broader Pashtun masses as latter represent Pakistan in every civil, military and government department with Pashtun ethnicity socially embedded with all other ethnic groups of the country.

Its violent tactics as sort of Kharqamar inident-whereby PTM protestors, led by MNAs Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar assaulted the check post in Boyya, North Waziristan- and documented revelations of foreign funding and agenda further disgruntled even the tribal masses from pledging any allegiance to the group.

The foremost problems faced by under-developed regions in Pakistan be it Balochistan or eastern-most stretch of KPK are no hidden reality. The birth of such acrimonious forces, feeding on their deprivations and grievances are the foreseeable consequence. The situation, further festers when such groups or actors develop hostile capacities, lauded and funded by foreign hostile elements, each seeking their own interest and stake in the situation, in this case RAW and Afghanistan’s NDS under Ashraf Ghani’s government when USA was in power in the state.

In this manner, responsibility for the birth of such anti-state or hostile forces lie completely in the failure of the state of Pakistan to realize and address prevalent socio-economic development and political inconsideration in vulnerable areas of Pakistan.

Merger of FATA in KPK offers positive prospects but only if state moves above and ahead of blame-gaming others and produce enough socio-economic opportunities in the greater good of the vulnerable populace and state in total.

In terms of FATA, not only literary and economic development should be ensured but truth commissions shall be established and made effective to issue the problem of missing persons, enforced disappearances and amends be made. Similarly, reconciliation commissions need to be mobilized together with social uplifting campaigns to relay to the grieved populace the concomitant and could-not-be-avoided impacts of both terrorism and ensuring peace against terrorism.

State shall contemplate to carve out synergy with civil societies and NGOs to the tune of ensuring development and accountability in the region. International efforts as that of FATA Development Program (FDP) introduced by Germany and EU collectively with the aim of capacity building and empowering masses and EU Multi-Donor Action ‘Aid to Uprooted People in Pakistan’ (AUP)-whose focus is the reintegration of FATA Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) shall also be thoroughly and strategically thought through and rolled over to this effect.

Sana Hamid
Sana Hamid
Author is an IR scholar having experience working with two top notch think tanks, namely IPRI and SDPI. She has numerous articles in her credits. She tweets @sana_hamid_here


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