Pakistani State Losing All Credibility in Trying to Attack Dissent

Countries react differently to dissent, democracies normally accept dissent as criticism not as anti-nationalism or sedition. Pakistan, however, has a history of treating any one who criticizes the country as not just anti-national but an Indian agent.

The Pakistani deep state has long held a deep seated paranoia about the non-violent Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), from arresting its leader Manzoor Pashteen, to preventing the mainstream media from showing their rallies to referring to any PTM supporters as seditionists.

On Tuesday the state broadcaster Radio Pakistan in what most refer to as “an unprecedented move” claimed “that MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir — who are also leaders of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) — were “facilitating anti-Pakistan forces to destabilise Pakistan”. In a brief, two-line news report published by the state broadcaster earlier today, both Wazir and Dawar — who are elected members of the National Assembly from the country’s tribal areas — were referred to simply as “PTM leaders”. Highlighting first that both men had received “special protocol by the Afghanistan army” upon their arrival in Kabul where they were attending the oath-taking ceremony of Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, the report goes on to say that they were “fulfilling the vested agenda of India through Afghanistan”, without providing any details to back the startling claim.”

Later, the report was “removed from Radio Pakistan’s website and tweets by the state broadcaster’s official account were also deleted.”

As a Dawn report shows, PTM “has been critical of the state’s policies in the country’s tribal belt, where a massive operation against terrorists was conducted in recent times leading to large-scale displacement and enforced disappearances. PTM’s leaders, in particular its elected members to the National Assembly, have come under fire for pursuing the release of individuals detained by authorities without due process. The army has alleged the party of running an anti-national agenda and for playing into the hands of the state’s enemies. Last year, Dawar and Wazir were arrested by police after a protest gathering in Kharqamar for allegedly using violence and clashing with army personnel. This year in January, PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen was arrested from Peshawar’s Shaheen Town for making a speech in Dera Ismail Khan during which he allegedly said that the 1973 Constitution violated basic human rights. The FIR said Pashteen also made derogatory remarks about the state. A day later, Dawar was arrested briefly from outside the Islamabad press club alongside several other individuals while protesting Pashteen’s detention. Pashteen was later released on bail on January 25.”

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