Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, acknowledged for his iconic crimson hat and outspoken criticism of Pakistan’s highly effective navy for inciting violence and instilling concern within the Pashtun lands, went lacking on December 4.
Within the unstable Pashtun belt straddling the Durand Line – a 1,660-mile Nineteenth-century separation between Afghanistan and Pakistan stretching from China to Iran – violence, bloodshed, alleged extrajudicial killings, and abductions form the panorama.
Pashteen, the chief of the Pashtun Tahafuz Motion – a civil rights motion advocating for the rights of the Pashtun ethnic group – addressed a rally in Chaman, Balochistan, advocating at no cost border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Whereas en path to Turbat city, the place Baloch activists had been protesting state-inflicted injustices, he was arrested.
Conflicting accounts emerged of what occurred: Eyewitnesses claimed Pakistani forces fired at Pashteen’s car, injuring a passerby, whereas authorities accused Pashteen’s supporters of initiating the gunfire. Pashteen was detained through the encounter. Following the arrest, his whereabouts remained unknown.
This sudden flip of occasions amplified fears in regards to the security and well-being of the civil rights chief. 1000’s flooded social media, demanding that the Pakistani authorities reveal Pashteen’s whereabouts. The hashtags #whereismanzoorpashteen and #releasemanzoorpashteen trended on X (previously Twitter), amplifying the requires solutions.
In Pakistan, enforced disappearances usually lead to everlasting absences, a actuality echoed by the continued protests of Baloch moms and sisters looking for his or her lacking family members. The U.S. State Division’s 2022 Nation Stories on Human Rights Practices outlined vital human rights issues in Pakistan, together with reviews of illegal or arbitrary killings, extrajudicial killings, pressured disappearances, torture by authorities brokers, and ongoing disappearances and arbitrary arrests.
In Pashteen’s case, a turning level emerged three days later. On December 7, he appeared earlier than an Islamabad court docket handcuffed and along with his head lined in a black sack – a sight paying homage to these arrested on terrorism costs because the onset of the US’ Struggle on Terror in 2001. Stories indicated that the Islamabad court docket granted him a seven-day remand.
“Lodging circumstances of terrorism towards Manzoor Pashteen is very condemnable as a result of he solely asks for peace in his personal land,” a Pakistani advocate, Ahmad Shafiq, acknowledged on X.
The intensive outcry surrounding Pashteen’s arrest, together with from Pakistan’s non-Pashtun neighborhood, underscores the persistent frustration throughout the nation’s political and social spheres.
Born to an area instructor and his spouse in South Waziristan, Manzoor Pashteen entered a world the place conflicts, poverty, and restricted academic entry deprive numerous kids of studying alternatives. Undeterred by these challenges, he pursued veterinary research and swiftly gained immense recognition amongst thousands and thousands of Pashtuns via his early activism. The identify “Manzoor,” roughly translating to “accepted,” symbolizes the hope he instilled in a neighborhood denied primary rights and alternatives.
Because the second-largest ethnic group in Pakistan, the Pashtuns represent as much as a reported 20 % of the nation’s estimated over 235 million inhabitants, as reported by the World Financial institution. Hundreds of thousands of Pashtuns dwell in Afghanistan, separated by the disputed Durand Line. Since Pakistan’s institution as an unbiased nation in 1947, the central authorities’s authority has critically been challenged on this area.
In 2018, Manzoor Pashteen initiated the Pashtun Tahafuz Motion (PTM) as a response to Pakistan’s intensive navy campaigns within the Pashtun belt, which uprooted a whole bunch of households, razed cities, and resulted in 1000’s of lifeless, displaced, and injured within the area. The PTM has since organized protests to finish extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, racial profiling, and harassment of Pashtuns and in addition referred to as for demining within the insurgency-wreaked area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa previously generally known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Pashteen’s birthplace, Waziristan, contains intensive mountainous terrain, practically the scale of Puerto Rico, with elevations reaching as much as 2,100 meters above sea degree. These mountains are adorned with pine bushes and dense forests, concealing a trove of beneficial minerals like chromite, copper, granite, magnesia, and manganese, in addition to substantial fuel and oil reserves.
Pashteen claimed that Pakistan’s navy campaigns weren’t solely geared toward combating terrorism however slightly at destabilizing the social cloth and exploiting pure sources within the space. And he accused Pakistan’s navy of supporting and funding militant teams to perpetuate volatility throughout the area.
Regardless of the picturesque panorama, extreme poverty and a scarcity of primary human rights have plagued the Pashtun neighborhood. Years of battle have left the area riddled with landmines, considerably impacting the world’s improvement and security.
Nonetheless, the combat for Pashtun rights in Pakistan is a permanent narrative, and Pashteen represents a latest chapter on this long-standing wrestle. His plight attracts parallels to the tribulations confronted by Bacha Khan Baba, a revered Pashtun peace advocate and confidant of Mahatma Gandhi. He too endured years of imprisonment in Pakistan. Within the Nineteen Sixties, Bacha Khan Baba was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty Worldwide; he’s interred in Afghanistan, symbolizing a peaceable protest towards Pakistan’s actions towards the rights of the Pashtuns.
There’s a notable distinction, nonetheless: Khan Baba advocated for the autonomy of Pashtun territories whereas Pashteen’s calls for are aligned with Pakistan’s constitutional framework.
It’s puzzling that the federal government of Pakistan arrested Pashteen, an anti-war advocate who shares issues with the Pakistani authorities concerning unauthorized militant group actions. As an illustration, he strictly opposes the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, a bunch considered as a menace by the Pakistani authorities. The arrest of anti-war and anti-militancy activists in Pakistan seems contradictory to their trigger. Pashteen, restricted from worldwide journey by Pakistan’s rules, confronted media silence in distinction to the prominence of reports surrounding militant actions.
Authorized proceedings involving Pashteen are ongoing, and a decision could take a while. In the meantime, critical issues stay about his security.
His supporters will proceed protesting worldwide. On December 6, his supporters assembled outdoors the White Home, advocating for his secure launch. One other group plans to stage an analogous protest on December 9 outdoors the Worldwide Felony Courtroom (ICC) in The Hague.