Why Ignoring the Ongoing Pashtun March Should Never Be an Option

Why Ignoring the Ongoing Pashtun March Should Never Be an Option

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By: Hassan Raza

Thousands of Pashtuns have marched to Islamabad as a protest against what they perceive as “State atrocities” on Pashtun ethnicity in Pakistan.

The protest which is entering its 7th day started in the aftermath of the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, a 27-year-old ethnic Pashtun shot by the Karachi police claiming the dead to be a “Taliban militant”.

Alleging the killing as “Fake encounter”, the young Pashtuns, led by Manzoor Ahmed Pashteen started a new series of demonstrations in the federal capital against the state policies towards the inhabitants of tribal areas in the country’s northwest.

In less than a week, the demonstrations have been joined by around 5,000 Pashtuns from the tribal areas and other parts of the country along with support from various other ethnic, religious groups, the civil society and members of all major Pakistani political parties.

Some of the demands by the members of sit-in protest include:

  1. Arrest Rao Anwar and everyone involved in the extrajudicial killings. 
  2. Bring back all missing persons and people who are disappeared by law enforcement agencies. Start fair court trials. 
  3. Remove all landmines from FATA region due to which hundreds of young Pashtuns have lost their lives and become disabled. 
  4. Freedom from persecution, freedom from inequality, freedom from injustice and discrimination for all. 

While the demands seem reasonable, it is surprising to know that none of the government officials have yet reached out to the protestors while the mainstream media seems reluctant to cover the sit in.

And people are obviously not happy.

Taking to Twitter to voice their opinion on the dual standards of Mainstream Media

The protest is being supported by people from all religious, ethnic backgrounds.

And Of course, the Nobel Laureate Malala Yousufzai.

The march in Islamabad clearly reflects the anger of the patriotic Pashtun population of Pakistan. Let’s not forget, these are the same people who have been consistently at war for last 17 years, the people who have faced the brunt of terrorism. When the military was held in their territory, they got displaced from their villages and were forced to live as refugees even in their own country, yet he bore it for peace, they resisted it for terrorism free Pakistan. Today, if we failed to address their anger, listen to their demands and provide them justice, these people would go back disappointed and then no power would be able to stop them from turning anti-state and possibly falling into the hands of extremism. Let’s use this as an opportunity to bridge gaps between our fellow country people, failing to do so, would only convince these people that the state of Pakistan that they have been calling home for past 70 years is certainly not theirs.  

Picture source: Twitter, Al Jazeera

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