–Pashtun leader sent on 14-day judicial remand to Peshawar jail, court to decide transitionary remand to DI Khan on Tuesday
–PTM leaders announce countrywide protests from Tuesday, say ‘resistance will balloon now’
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police on Monday arrested Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen on various charges, including sedition, and later sent him to Peshawar’s Central Jail on a 14-day judicial remand.
The court will hold a hearing on Tuesday to decide whether a transitory remand can be granted in order to move Pashteen to Dera Ismail Khan, where a first information report (FIR) has been registered against him.
According to details, the FIR was registered on Jan 18 under sections 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 124 (sedition), and 123-A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). However, the police failed to arrest PTM chief until Monday.
The FIR alleges that Pashteen and other PTM leaders had attended a gathering on Jan 18, in DI Khan where the PTM chief had allegedly said that the 1973 Constitution violated basic human rights.
The FIR added that Pashteen also made derogatory remarks about the state.
Police has also arrested nine other PTM workers who were identified as Muhammad Salam, Abdul Hameed, Idrees, Bilal, Mohib, Sajjadul Hassan, Aimal, Farooq and Muhammad Salman.
Taking to Twitter, PTM leader and MNA Mohsin Dawar said: “This is our punishment for demanding our rights in a peaceful and democratic manner. Manzoor’s arrest will only strengthen our resolve. We demand the immediate release of Manzoor Pashteen.”
Last night Manzoor Pashteen was arrested in Tehkaal, Peshawar. This is our punishment for demanding our rights in a peaceful & democratic manner. But Manzoor’s arrest will only strengthen our resolve. We demand the immediate release of Manzoor Pashteen.#ReleaseManzoorPashteen
— Mohsin Dawar (@mjdawar) January 27, 2020
He urged PTM workers and supporters to remain calm in the wake of the arrest. “We will devise a strategy after consultations. We are up against those who are most troubled by demands for constitutional rights, and we will continue doing that.”
PTM TO LAUNCH COUNTRYWIDE PROTESTS:
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Dawar said that he had called the police to ask on what grounds Pashteen had been arrested but they did not give any reasons and refused to cooperate.
Terming the arrest as “abduction”, Dawar said: “We think that Manzoor Pashteen has been arrested for the speech he delivered in Bannu in which he said he will gather all Pashtun leaders.” He urged PTM workers to stay “peaceful like always” and announced that the group will hold protests across the country as well as abroad on Tuesday.
“FIRs will not frighten us. Resistance will balloon now,” Dawar declared.
Also speaking on the occasion, PTM leader Ali Wazir recalled that Defence Minister Pervez Khattak had recently offered to hold dialogue with the rights group in order to address their issues and yet Pashteen had been arrested.
“It means the government and state are not on the same page,” Wazir said.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and former senator Farhatullah Babar, who was also present at the presser, said that his party had condemned Pashteen’s arrest and demanded the “immediate release” of the PTM chief as well as his supporters, who had been taken into custody.
“It is strange that the defence minister had offered dialogue to PTM but [now] the arrest of Manzoor Pashteen is an eye-opener,” Babar said.
“Political detentions will deteriorate internal security,” the PPP leader warned.
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Senator Usman Kakar also condemned Pashteen’s arrest and said: “Manzoor Pashteen’s narrative and popularity have given sleepless nights to the government and those at the helms of affairs.”
Khattak termed Pashteen’s arrest as a “dangerous” move, saying, “the arrest of Manzoor Pashteen has turned him into a reality.”
“Why are you not ready to book Musharraf who sabotaged the Constitution?” the politician demanded and called upon rights groups to take notice of Pashteen’s “illegal arrest”.
“How will you sell atrocities in occupied-Kashmir when you are treating your own people in the same manner?” Khattak added.
Following Pashteen’s arrest, #ReleaseManzoorPashteen started trending on Twitter with various politicians and human rights activists calling for his release.
In a tweet, Amnesty International South Asia also called for the “unconditional” release of Pashteen who, it said, was arrested for “exercising his human rights to freedom of expression”.
Manzoor Pashteen has been arbitrarily detained for exercising his human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. He must be released immediately and unconditionally. #ReleaseManzoorPashteen
— Amnesty International South Asia (@amnestysasia) January 27, 2020
PTM is a rights-based alliance that, besides calling for the de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement in the latter, has insisted on an end to the practices of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and unlawful detentions, and for their practitioners to be held to account within a truth and reconciliation framework.
The party has been critical of the state’s policies in the country’s tribal belt, where a massive operation against terrorists was conducted in recent times leading to large-scale displacement and enforced disappearances.
PTM’s leaders, in particular its elected members to the National Assembly, have come under fire for pursuing the release of individuals detained by authorities without due process. The army alleges the party of running an anti-national agenda and for playing into the hands of the state’s enemies.
Last year, two of PTM’s MNAs — Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir — were arrested by police after a protest gathering in Kharqamar for allegedly using violence and clashing with army personnel. The party while rejecting these allegations, insisted that theirs is a peaceful struggle for the rights of people from the country’s tribal belt.