Pakistan Army Shoots at Peaceful PTM Protestors -Rerun of East Pakistan?’

On Sunday May 26, the Pakistan army shot at peaceful Pashtun Tahaffuz movement (PTM) supporters and activists in North Waziristan. A large group of PTM supporters, led by their two MNAs, had been on their way to a sit-in protesting recent arrests and searches by the military.

In a statement Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, the military spokesman, warned PTM leaders “You have enjoyed all the liberty that you wanted to.” As the New York Times reported “the military sees the movement as being propped up by foes of the state and accuses neighboring Afghanistan and India of trying to stir up unrest with support of the movement in areas straddling the Afghan border.”

The PTM denied the accusations and “said military personnel had fired indiscriminately on the protesters. Mr. Dawar, a lawmaker representing the area, said in an audio message sent to journalists that the protesters had managed to cross the checkpoint because they outnumbered the soldiers there. But then, he said, they heard firing from above. He said troops fired in the air, then directly at the protesters, injuring about 30, including himself. The lawmaker Mr. Wazir and eight others were arrested and will be charged with inciting violence against the state under antiterrorism laws, the government official said. Mr. Dawar was not arrested.”

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has demanded a parliamentary commission to investigate what happened in Waziristan. In astatement that was issued, The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed alarm at “the use of military force causing deaths of at least three Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activists in North Waziristan. HRCP believes that this will further escalate tensions between PTM supporters and security institutions, consequently leading to a permanent wedge between the people of tribal districts and the state. This will be detrimental to the interests of the country and its citizens. HRCP demands the release of MNA Ali Wazir and any other activists taken into custody. It also calls for a parliamentary commission to be set up immediately to inquire into the matter and establish the truth. There must be a serious attempt to genuinely address the grievances of the local population, which the PTM has been articulating peacefully for well over a year. Moreover, with the passage of the 26th Constitutional Amendment, the state must ensure that the media and civil society have independent access to the former FATA. The country’s mainstream media must also understand its responsibility to report on this region fairly.”

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