Manzoor Pashteen has been all over the place in 2018, but he hasn’t quite been in the news. When he led a 22 person march from Dera Ismail Khan towards the Pashtun long march in Islamabad in January, no one could have imagined he would have held rallies all over the country attended by thousands by the end of the year.
The unassuming, 24 year old veterinary doctor in his trademark ‘Pashteen cap’ has become a leader of the pashtun people and a symbol of resistance against the powers that be. His message is simple, the PTM wants their constitutional rights and an end to enforced disappearances. The demand is not a new one, but what is new is the candour with which he calls out the armed forces in his speeches. This, of course, has meant he hasn’t been able to feature on television or even as heavily in newspapers.
But the PTM is a modern movement, and their audience are of facebook and twitter, not tuning in for the 9 ’0 clock news or unfurling newspapers in the morning – and the media clampdown has meant little to them but another talking point – fifth generation warfare as his opponents would have you believe.
Perhaps Manzoor Pashteen’s greatest quality is in his strength as a storyteller. With countless harrowing tales to recount, all with seamless detail and authenticity, he has translated an online movement into crowds of thousands in Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and all over KP.