Meet the 23-year-old activist who could change Pakistan- A Profile Of Manzoor Pashteen
Oct 16, 2018
Naqibullah Mehsud was on his way to social media stardom. The 27-year-old, originally from Waziristan in Pakistan’s tribal region, lived in the distant southern megacity of Karachi and worked in a shop. An aspiring model, he posted photos of himself on his Facebook page, modelling new clothes, hairstyles and beard trims. By December 2017, he had over 14,000 followers.On 3rd January, plainclothes policemen walked into a restaurant and took Naqibullah away. Ten days later, he was dead. Police released a statement saying that he was killed during a raid on a “terrorist hideout,” and had links to Islamic State and the Pakistani Taliban. They said he died in an “encounter,” or shootout. In South Asia, this is often a euphemism for an extrajudicial execution.
According to many sources, the Pakistan Deep State has a deliberate policy of eliminating young intellectuals (mostly Balochi and Pashtun) who have leadership potentials. They did the same in their "old" East Pakistan, now Bangladesh !
The family denied militant links and it has subsequently emerged that Naqibullah was probably killed due to a case of mistaken identity.
His killer has been bail free and most likely will never be punished !
Naqibullah was of Pashtun ethnicity, from Waziristan’s Mehsud tribe. Divided by the Durand Line, Pashtuns live in Pakistan—where they are the second largest ethnic group—and Afghanistan, where they are the largest. But particularly since 9/11 and the emergence of the Pakistani Taliban, whose leadership also comes from the Mehsud tribe, they have been seen as a suspect community. The US-led invasion of Afghanistan, which Pakistan supported, led to the relocation of militant infrastructure and a large number of fighters over the border.Subsequent Pakistani military action against militant groups in the tribal areas was seen by some tribesmen as an attempt at subjugation, and, along with the influx of extremist ideology, this perceived grievance led to the formation of the Pakistani Taliban. One of the things that made it distinct from the Afghan Taliban was its explicit targeting of the Pakistani state.
There are Pakjabi members as well !
As the anger gathered pace, another young man from Waziristan watched carefully. Manzoor Pashteen was, like Naqibullah, from the Mehsud tribe. He was 23, educated and confident. Since 2014, he and some friends had run a small protest group called the Mehsud Protection Movement, which campaigned against human rights abuses. Trying to get attention for these issues was usually a losing battle: people were too afraid to publicly criticise the military.
But this felt different. Pashteen was in touch with Naqibullah’s relatives, and had used his own social media following to draw attention to the case. The young men spotted an opportunity, and organised a protest march from Dera Ismail Khan, a city in northern Pakistan, all the way to the capital, Islamabad. “I said to my friends, if there is anyone willing to die for his homeland and for the sake of humanity, then please join me,” Pashteen told me. “Twenty-two came and said they were ready to be killed. We decided to go to every city and tell people the story of extrajudicial killings, of missing persons.”
Within months, several major political parties and politicians expressed their support for the PTM’s demands—including Imran Khan. He seemed to provide some hope. Though born and raised in Punjab in the east, Khan is of Pashtun ethnicity, and his party, the populist Pakistan Movement for Justice, is popular in northwestern Pakistan. In April, two months before the election, he promised to ask the army chief to ease security checks and clear landmines.
Manzoor Pashteen was born in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), which, along with the adjacent province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) is the main home of Pakistan’s Pashtuns.
I spent several weeks this summer in Karachi trying to speak to Pashteen. The young people who run the PTM were responsive and usually available online, but practical realities interrupted. Pashteen was constantly on the move, in a frenetic series of pre-election rallies and meetings, making a face-to-face meeting unviable. We arranged to speak on Skype when I returned to London; suddenly, Pashteen and a close associate who I’d been in contact with disappeared, not coming online on WhatsApp or Skype for a fortnight. Another member explained that sometimes they travel to parts of Pakistan affected by phone and internet blackouts—including South Waziristan, where Pashteen’s family lives. Additionally, security threats mean they sometimes go to ground. I finally caught Pashteen on the phone while he was in KPK’s provincial capital, Peshawar. It was late at night in Pakistan, but he talked for several hours, with friends passing in and out of the room.
Despite his early support for the PTM, as prime minister Imran Khan has remained silent. He is unlikely to make substantive changes, given a slim parliamentary majority and a close relationship with the military. The recent election marked Pakistan’s second peaceful democratic transition, but military power still lurks in the background. The crackdown on a non-violent civil rights movement—directed not just at the PTM but also at the media, NGOs and human rights advocates—confirms that real democratic participation is often unwelcome. In a recent press conference, a military spokesman criticised the foreign media for covering the PTM, which he described as “anti-state, anti-Pakistan, anti-army, anti-forces.”
The PTM is a nascent movement; its overarching future direction is unclear. Their immediate plan is to continue to hold rallies, raise awareness and attempt to hold power to account peacefully. But some members are beginning to consider their personal safety as the harassment ramps up. “I don’t want to die, because I have a lot to do,” says Ejaz. She pauses. “If I do die, at least they can tell people that there were men, but there were women too, who stood up to the strongest state agencies and asked for their rights.
In September, arrest warrants were issued for five PTM activists, including Pashteen, saying they had held a rally without the proper permission. The same week, a television advert in Punjab showed Pashteen’s face as a voiceover warned against terrorism and sectarian violence. (The ad was quickly withdrawn after an online backlash.) In statements to the press, core committee members began to talk vaguely about changing their approach.“We are non-violent, we are simply raising our voices and crying for justice, but the state is violent,” Pashteen told me. “To the extent that we continue to have hope that the state will stop killing our people, we will be non-violent and we will not be separatist.“But when we lose this hope, we will think again.”
Pashteen and PTM ( like the TTP and Mukti Bahini earlier ) have been labelled as "Indian Agents" by the Deep State . They have already lost half of their original "homeland" . Now they laying the groundwork for loss of Baloch and the Pashtoon areas by their oppressive policies