The killing of an aspiring model from the community – which makes up about 15 per cent of Pakistan’s 207 million population – in January sparked countrywide protests.
On Sunday, Pashteen led another Pashtun Long March in Peshawar, demanding protection and rights.
According to the Pashtun leader, there were only 22 people with him when he started the protest in March. “But very soon, thousands joined us. We had no idea these many people would join us.,” he said, calling it a miracle.
He said that Pakistan would become stable if the law enforcement and security agencies are held accountable for their actions with checks and balances.
“Extrajudicial killings and missing persons is not unique to Pashtuns. If a commission is formed to solve these issues, it will also benefit others,” he said, adding that if the state can address the grievances of Pashtuns, who have experienced violence and injustice, and yet have protested peacefully, it will set a new precedent.
“If these injustices and mistreatment by institutions against their own people end, then the anger and resentment will also end. People will embrace Pakistan and Pakistan will embrace its people.”
Defending the protest movement, Pashteen said that their protests are constitutional.
“The people who do not want peace have no respect for the constitution, and it seems the Pakistani institutions do not want to work under the constitution,” he said. “This is a crucial matter, and we need to think about why this is happening.”
He condemned the labelling of the protesting Pashtuns as foreign agents working for Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s spy agency, or the Afghan intelligence agency – National Directorate of Security.
“We are simple people talking about peace and harmony. Our agenda is peace, and if their agenda is that atrocities should continue, this is wrong. How is demanding a peaceful life part of a foreign agenda?”
The Pashtun leader said the movement will not resort to violence even though attempts were being made to sabotage its peaceful agenda.