The Hijacked Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement -PTM

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Interesting to see this emergence of PTM before our elections & especially when Pakistan is under constant USA pressure vis-a-vis the Taleban etc, an old mantra which has lost its credibility.

Clearly it is very well-funded and getting a lot of social media support from the usual suspects, Husain Haqqani, Mazdaki (Mohammed Taqi), Raza Rumi, Marvi Sirmed, ostensibly under the facade of “free speech” and “Pashtun rights”. But in reality pushing their “cold war” agenda of anti militarism, another dead dog, forward.

While many of the PTM grievances may be valid such as the large number of security checkpoints, midnight knocks, being subjected to what are perceived as highly unnecessary restrictions. But unfortunately these are an ugly and harsh reality of a geography which has seen war and violence for nearly 40 years.

Lest we forget, post 9/11, even the world’s so-called most vibrant democracy, the USA, has behaved worse than a Nazi fascist state in treating its own citizens and still do. As have others when they felt their security threatened.

I fully sympathise and empathise with those who suffer from the high handedness of the State. And only someone who undergoes the pain and the indignities, can understand what it feels being the victim of extremely harsh security measures. As do the youth of FATA.

Pakistan has been through civil wars and extreme violence and militancy in FATA and Balochistan. Unfortunately and as a consequence the landscape is not just physically scarred but also emotionally and intellectually, scarred on all sides. Including the State. Every shadow is potential terrorist, a suicide bomber. And then of course power also results in its misuse as well.

Clearly no one wants to live in an environment of constant surveillance, security checks, sometimes even being treated as possible criminals or terrorists?

But this is the unfortunate, tragic and sad part of our reality, and while I fully support every effort to normalize the lives of every citizen in our country and for the removal of this very harsh security blanket, we must also understand the rationale.

Several years ago, I remember coming from Dubai to Lahore, and just because my driver had a very long beard and wasn’t carrying his original identity card, we were stopped for three hours, despite my ex military credentials, till his brother brought his genuine ID card!

While this is nothing compared to the many indignities people in FATA or Quetta or other parts suffer, it manifests the paranoia of the State and their own insecurities and experiences where seemingly innocent people wreaked havoc!

Only with time and peace will things become more normal, and the journey has started.

But what for me is seriously questionable and extremely dangerous for Pakistan, is how the PTM has clearly being hijacked by anti state and anti army elements, using the genuine grievances of the people.

And what is also not clear is what this movement wants to achieve other than abusing the Army, shouting platitudes about freedom and “our rights”. There’s clearly much more to this movement than meets the eye.

Running the risk of being dubbed a conspiracy theorist, it does appears that the PTM, in some of its highly inflammable rhetoric, advocates what the USA, Afghans and Indians have been saying about Pakistan and the Pakistan Army.

And to me also offers them the perfect opportunity, to create dissension in Fata and KPK, and bring pressure on Pakistan and the Army.

Also not far behind are possibilities that local politics may also be fueling this.

Nawaz Sharif, ANP and the likes of Mahmood Achakzai have a lot to gain by the PTM stance of constantly abusing and attacking the Army and the State.

And the cherry on the cake is to divide the PTI Pashtun youth vote. Imran’s flagship!

One symathises with any beleaguered community, especially the residents of FATA for the hell they have been through and highlighting and complaining against high handedness by the state, which is every citizen’s right, more so if its outside the bounds of the prevailing law.

But Manzoor Pashteen must be careful that the genuine cause of the movement does not turn into an Army and state bashing exercise, hijacked by our enemies! He is either a willing co-conspirator or stupid enough to be used.

From what Ive seen, he’s far from stupid!

All the current signs tell me that its turning into something sinister. But I could be wrong!

For one, the language used against the Army gives them away!

Secondly I’m very wary when certain types of people begin to endorse any movement in Pakistan.

The final giveaway will be an International Conference!

-Haider Mehdi

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