- The PTM attack on a checkpost exposed it
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been inimical to Pakistan and has waged war against it, causing a loss of nearly 70,000 people. In the near past, the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) appears to have cloned the TTP. It is ironic that two PTM adherents gained access to the Parliament as MNAs in the 2018 general elections but have not given up trolling Pakistan and its Army. In a recent video circulating on social media, MNA Ali Wazir is being seen addressing a crowd in Bannu, where he said that “we will cut down the barbed wires and fences which Pak Army has erected on Pak-Afghan border and use them to hang soldiers.” Such statements were frequently made by TTP representatives. They had even targeted the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar on 16 December 2014 in a dastardly attack in which 142 innocent children were martyred. The state of Pakistan got its act together after the watershed moment of the APS attack. Military Operation Zarb-e-Azb took care of the TTP, who were routed and scattered. Their leadership beat a hasty retreat to Afghanistan, but some were hunted down and eliminated.
The PTM, formerly known as the Mehsud Tah-afuz Movement, was started in May 2014 by eight students at Gomal University as an initiative for removing landmines from Waziristan (especially Mehsud territory) and other parts of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), affected by the war in North-West Pakistan. The brutal slaying of Naqeebullah Mehsud morphed the organization into PTM, which organized protest rallies in most of the major cities including Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore, Swat, Karachi, Dera Ismail Khan, Swabi and Bannu.
Responding to the attack by a mob led by Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar on the security forces, [Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan] said Prime Minister Imran Khan had done a lot for the tribal people. She said the process of progress of tribal areas was going on, but some miscreants were trying to stop it
The PTM rallies were aimed at launching protests to highlight the plight of the Pashtun community, the second largest ethnic group in Pakistan, comprising nearly 15.42 percent of the population. Around this time, forces hostile to Pakistan, appear to have started sponsoring PTM as it began chanting slogans of Yeh jo dehshatgardi hai, iss ke peechhay wardi hai (‘Behind this terrorism is the uniformed army’). PTM also picked up the cudgel for the recovery of missing persons and reiterated their demands, which included the removal of the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), the release of missing persons, stopping the humiliation of Pashtuns at security checkpoints, and removal of landmines in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
An important aspect is that Manzoor Pashteen did not even condemn violence against Afghans by US- and Indian-sponsored ISIS. It is no coincidence that as soon as India began experiencing protests all across, the likes of the PTM have been pushed by their foreign sponsors to instigate violence in Pakistan.
A mob led by PTM leaders and MNAs Mohsin Javed Dawar and Ali Wazir assaulted Kharqamar check-post in Boyya area of North Waziristan tribal district on 26 May 2019, causing injuries to five soldiers of the Pakistan Army.
According to ISPR, “Due to firing of the group, five army soldiers got injured. In exchange of fire, three individuals who attacked the post lost their lives and 10 got injured. All injured have been evacuated to army hospital for treatment.” The ISPR added that Ali Wazir along with eight individuals has been arrested, while Mohsin Dawar was at large after inciting the crowd. Later both were arrested and presented before an anti-terrorism court. However, being Parliamentarians, they were released on bail due to pressure from their colleagues in the National Assembly.
The DG ISPR opined that the aim of the attack at the checkpost was to exert pressure for the release of a suspected facilitator of terrorists arrested earlier. PTM leader Gulalai Ismail had tried to instigate public opinion in the garb of expressing solidarity for the slain child Farishta in the Federal Capital. She tried to defame the government as well as the Armed Forces of Pakistan. On May 6, a first information report (FIR) had been registered against members of the PTM central committee, including MNA Ali Wazir in North Waziristan, for inciting people to revolt against the state.
According to sources, a clearance operation was conducted on 24 May 2019 in Doga area of North Waziristan as part of the sanitization campaign. Troops deployed on one of the blocking positions received fire from Doga village and a soldier received a bullet injury in his belly. Following the incident, two suspects were taken into custody on 25 May. A day after the arrests, MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir on 26 May incited the people to launch an assault on the army checkpost.
It is worth mentioning here that under the Pakistan Army Act, if an army check-post is assaulted, the troops are legally covered to effectively respond to the attack and those who conduct the assault can be tried by the military courts.
Hours after the deadly clash between PTM supporters and the security forces, the Army spokesperson vowed not to allow anyone to ‘undo the gains of decades-long national struggle and sacrifices of brave Pakistani tribesmen’. “Innocent PTM supporters/workers need care. Only few are inciting and using them against state institutions for vested agenda.”
After the clash, visuals of the protest and ensuing violence started circulating on social media, including the Afghan media group Pajhwok. However, later it turned out that all the visuals were fake.
In a statement, Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Syed Amjad Shah expressed the view that any demand of an individual or a group which is within the Constitution must be fulfilled by the government. “But, a few members of PTM are inciting people for separation and are demonizing the state institutions through an empty rhetoric which comes in the ambit of treason,” he said, and called upon the government to take strict legal action against all such elements.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said the attack on the Army checkpost was condemnable and that the government would act according to the law. Responding to the attack by a mob led by Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar on the security forces, she said Prime Minister Imran Khan had done a lot for the tribal people. She said the process of progress of tribal areas was going on, but some miscreants were trying to stop it. “These miscreants are playing in the foreign hands. These people have challenged the writ of the state and an action will be taken against them according to the law,” she said, and vowed that no one would be allowed to play with the country’s national interests. A petition has already been filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the PTM for speaking against the state institutions, including the Pakistan Army. The application, filed by Colonel (rtd) Javed Iqbal, was heard by Justice Amir Farooq of the IHC.
It is high time that enemies of Pakistan, be they members of the Parliament, should be taken to task legally and set exemplary punishments under the law of the land.