Pashtun activists killed in Pakistan by joint Taliban and Pakistan security forces action

DERA ISMAIL KHAN/PESHAWAR, Islamabad (Reuters) – Several Pashtun ethnic rights activists were killed and at least 25 were wounded in a Pakistan tribal region on Sunday, when Taliban militants attacked their gathering and security forces opened fire on protesters during disturbances that followed.

The violence took place in Wana, the main administrative center for South Waziristan, one of the most volatile of the tribal lands on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

Local tribesmen and one security official, speaking on condition on anonymity, said two people were killed and 25 wounded. But Manzoor Pashteen, the head of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), said in a posting on social media that at least 10 people died and 30 were wounded during Sunday’s violence.

In his Twitter post, Pashteen described how Taliban fighters had first attacked the PTM gathering. Later angry protesters threw stones, prompting “indiscriminate” firing by security forces, he said.

The PTM became prominent after the killing of a Pashtun youth by police in the southern city of Karachi in January. Since then it has held rallies across many towns and cities.

Ali Wazir, a PTM leader who was wounded in the attack, told Reuters that the militants wanted PTM to leave the area and were “dictating an end to PTM activities in Wana”.

Some PTM members said they suspected the gunmen who attacked them belonged to a Taliban faction that has covert support from Pakistan’s powerful military. The military, which denies fostering proxy groups, did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The PTM alleges that thousands of Pashtuns were targeted in state-organized killings after Pakistan joined the U.S.-led war on terror in 2001 and launched major military operations against militant strongholds in tribal areas between 2009 and 2014.

The military has been engaged in talks with PTM members to address some of their grievances.

Pashteen called for protests at U.N offices in response to the latest outrage.

“Pashtuns wherever should protest now and those who cannot should do it tomorrow in front of the UN offices because this state doesn’t listen to our voice,” Pashteen said.

PTM supporters in Peshawar protested outside the Islamabad Press Club late on Sunday evening.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assembly on May 27 approved the merger of the province with the semi autonomous tribal areas and frontier regions, in a move aimed at bringing them into Pakistan’s political mainstream.

په علي وزیر برید او د منظور پښتین خبرداری

منظور پښتین د پاکستان ادارو ته خبردارې ورکړېدی چې هغوي که هر ډول ظلم هم وکړي، د ناکامۍ سره به مخ کیږي.

د پاکستان د خیبر پښتونخوا د وزیرستان په سیمې کې طالبانو د پښتون ژغورنې د تحریک په یو مخکښ مشر علي وزیر او په عام ولس ډزې کړیدي چې تراوسه پورې پکې په لسگونو کسان زخمیان دي. د زخمیانو دقیق شمیر لا تروسه ندی معلوم خو منطور پښتین په خپله وینا کې ادعا کړې چې تروسه لس تنه وژل شوې او دیرش رخمیان دي.

ځایي سرچینو د امریکا غږ ډیوه راډیو ته ویلي چې طالبانو په واڼا کې نن د یکشنبې په ورځ د پښتون تحریک په مشر علي وزیر ډزې وکړې، دغه برید نیم ساعت دوام وکړ خو علي وزیر ترینه روغ وتلی دی. په دغه برید کې شاوخوا لس تنه زخمیان شویدي او ځایي روغتون ته انتقال شویدي.

د دغې پیښې نه وروسته منظور پښتین په خپل فیس بک په یوې لایو وینا کې د پاکستان ادارو ته خبردارې ورکړ چې “مونږ پوهه یو چې طالبان څوک دي، تاسو چې څه هم کوئ، ماتې به خورئ، شکست به ستاسو مقدر وي.”

منظور وویل د پاکستان ټولې ادارې په ترهگرۍ کې ککړې دي، هغه وویل “د دوي لاسونه د پښتونو په وینو ککړ دي. پي ټي ایم د امن لپاره تحریک شروع کړیدی چې د پاکستان اساسي قانون یې اجازه ورکوي. خو دوي ترهگر ترهگر کوي. د پاکستان ادارو خپل ظلم ته دوام ورکړیدی.”

هغه وویل چې نن په واڼا کې د خلکو په مخکې پوځیان د طالبانو شاته ولاړ و او په خلکو یې ډزې وکړی.

“د پاکستان د ټولو لویه اداره پوځ، دوهمه لویه اداره طالبان او بیا آی ایس آی او رینجرز دغه کارونه کوي. چې پښتنو د سولې لپاره مبارزه پیل کړه نو دوي ورته بیا دا چل شروع کړ.”

منظور پښتین د نړۍ د ټولو پښتنو نه یو ځلې بیا غوښتنه وکړه چې د وروستیو پیښو په ضد دې احتجاج وکړي.

له بلې خوا د پاکستان جیو ټلویژون رپورټ ورکړیدی چې په پیښور کې د نامعلونو کسانو په ډزو کې دوه تنه وژل شویدي.

Säkerhetsläget i Afghanistan riskerar att förvärras – Det är illa nog

Min far kom tillbaka från Afghanistan för några dagar sedan och han har spenderat sin tid i de södra delarna av Afghanistan. Han menar på att läget är så illa att det är svårt att föreställa sig att det kan bli värre.

Sveriges Radio skriver följande:

I Afghanistan har flera parlamentsledamöter varnat regeringen för att säkerhetssituationen i landet nu riskerar att förvärras.

Flera provinser i landet riskerar att falla till talibanerna om inte regeringen agerar, hävdar parlamentsledamöterna.

Säkerhetsläget i Afghanistan är värre än vad regeringen låter påskina, menar flera av ledamöterna. Och de lägger skulden på landets säkerhetstjänster.

En av parlamentsledamöterna, Allah Gul Mujahid säger till nyhetstjänsten Tolo News att Afghanistans president, Ashraf Ghani, får felaktig information av antingen inrikesministern eller försvarsministern, rörande säkerhetssitationen ute i landet.

En annan ledamot, Rangina Kargar, hävdar att i tio distrikt i regionen Faryab så är det endast centralorterna och poliskontoren som för närvarande står under regeringens kontroll.

Försvarsministeriet har svarat på kritiken med att säga att flera operationer för närvarande pågår och att de olika motståndsgrupperna håller på att tryckas tillbaka.

Men säkerhetsläget på många håll i Afghanistan är fortsatt svårt. I måndags dödades exempelvis 25 personer i huvudstaden Kabul i ett attentat utfört av självmordsbombare tillhörande IS.

Bara några timmar senare, även det alltså i måndags, dödades elva barn i ett bilbombsattentat mot en Natokonvoj i Kandahar, i södra Afghanistan. Åtta rumänska Natosoldater skadades även i det dådet.

Enligt en amerikansk rapport som släpptes i april kontrollerade de afghanska myndigheterna i början av året endast 56 procent av Afghanistans yta.

Den afghanska militären är tillika fortsatt starkt beroende av amerikanskt militärt stöd. I förra veckan var det nära att huvudstaden i provinsen Farah föll till talibanerna.

Regeringsstyrkorna hade bedömt inte lyckats slå tillbaka talibananfallet om det inte varit för att USA snabbt skickade dit omfattande flygunderstöd.

USA:s strategi i Afghanistan har uppenbarligen inte lyckats. Och i linje med det meddelades det tidigare i veckan att Trumpadministrationen utsett en ny befälhavare för de amerikanska styrkorna i Afghanistan.

Generallöjtnant Austin Miller har tidigare varit chef för de amerikanska specialförbanden, och han har själv tidigare tjänstgjort i den så kallade Delta force.

Frågan är om han kommer att lyckas med det alla hans företrädare misslyckats med.

Manzoor Pashteen: The young tribesman rattling Pakistan’s army

Tens of thousands of Pashtuns are demanding an end to extrajudicial killings and abductions they blame on the Pakistani state – and a charismatic young man has become their spokesman.

A compelling, bearded tribesman in his early 30s, Manzoor Pashteen is the unlikely figurehead for protests that have now mushroomed into a wider movement that threatens to upset a precarious balance ahead of general elections.

He represents people who say they were brutalised during decades of war in the border areas Pakistan shares with Afghanistan. NGOs say thousands of people have been reported missing in regions such as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan.

Over the weekend thousands of people attended a rally in Lahore, defying calls from the authorities to boycott the event, and despite officials briefly detaining some leaders of the movement in raids.

The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM, Pashtun Protection Movement) is expressly peaceful, and its demands are within the limits of Pakistani law. But the pressure it has placed on the country’s leaders is telling.

Even army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa has become involved, calling the protests “engineered”, implying they are following a hostile foreign agenda, although they appear spontaneous.

‘Terrorists in uniform’
Secunder Kermani, BBC News, Lahore

“What kind of freedom is this?” the crowd chant. It’s the chorus of the anthem of this protest movement, and one that encapsulates the myriad grievances from Pakistan’s “war on terror”.

A common thread is a feeling that Pashtuns have been caught between the militants and the military for years. One man from the Swat Valley tells me how on a single road there would be checkpoints by both the Taliban and the army. If you were clean-shaven the Taliban would accuse you of being pro-government, if you had a beard soldiers accused you of being an extremist.

At a stall on the side of the protest, activists are writing the names of young men allegedly in the custody of the intelligence services, but never produced in court. It’s one of the most sensitive issues in the country – I’m surrounded by people wanting to tell me what happened to their relatives.

Resentment towards the powerful military establishment is expressed most boldly by the slogan, “The ones responsible for terrorism are the ones in uniform”. This kind of open challenge is more or less unprecedented in recent times, and seems to be growing.

So far there has also been an almost total media blackout of PTM rallies, which attract substantial support.

It is a notable contrast to the air time given on Pakistan’s increasingly controlled media to small bands of anti-PTM protesters. Those didn’t get much traction with the public and are suspected of links with the military.

Manzoor Pashteen speaks Pashto in his native Mehsud dialect. But unlike other young tribesmen he is educated, and can speak Urdu and English with the same ease.

He says he never realised he would get such support but he’s clear about what needs to change.

“People were oppressed. Their life had become intolerable. Curfews and insults by the army soldiers had stripped them of their pride,” he told BBC Pashto’s Khudai Noor Nasar in March.

Since February, he and his supporters have travelled across the Pashtun heartlands, from Quetta to Peshawar, attracting huge crowds and exposing never-ending stories of misery, death and destruction.

Many see the PTM as breaking new ground in the political landscape of a country where proxy wars have disenfranchised large populations not only in tribal areas and the north-west, but also in Balochistan, southern Sindh province and the northern areas along the border with China.

Mr Pashteen has said his movement won’t participate in electoral politics. But even then, one expects them to have a strong off-stage voice when elections are held this summer.

Well-known lawyer and columnist Babar Sattar has written that Pashteen’s social consciousness may be rooted in his Pashtun identity, “but the questions he is asking are relevant for all of us”.

The debate triggered by the PTM is about the “coercive relationship between a citizen and the Pakistani state; [about] the character, priorities and actions of our state that are undermining… their rights to life, liberty, dignity and equality”.

Despite the media blackout the PTM has been successful in getting its message over through social media, with the help of a growing number of activists, mostly from areas seen as marginalised.

In fact, Mr Pashteen says social media came to his rescue when he was arrested after protests against the army and its intelligence service, the ISI, last year.

“Our house had been surrounded by the army who picked up my father and uncle and detained them at a nearby checkpost,” he said in the BBC Pashto interview. “When I went there, they arrested me and put me in a room. They said protests against the army were detrimental to their morale.”

Soon, news of his arrest reached friends who spread the word, prompting protests in his support.

“So they [the military] took me out and brought me to a brigadier who said we are releasing you, but tell your friends to stop their campaign.”

Manzoor Pashteen was born and raised in South Waziristan, which was the earliest of the Pakistan Taliban sanctuaries in the post-9/11 period.

Like many other tribal districts and parts of the north-west, the local population’s freedoms and livelihoods were held hostage – either by the army or the militants, who were seen as the military’s proxies despite all the denials.

The son of a school teacher, he was lucky to have easy access to education which continued when his family left conflict-ridden South Waziristan in 2010. It was a time when families had to move from their villages and take refuge in faraway towns and cities like Bannu, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi.

For that generation, political awareness was shaped by exposure to life outside Waziristan, and their experience of disempowerment when they moved back to their villages.

As one former senator, Afrasiab Khatak, puts it, “the lava accumulated through all these troubles and tribulations was waiting to erupt. It was only a matter of time”.

That time came when a young man called Naqeebullah from South Waziristan was killed by police in an alleged “staged encounter” in Karachi on 13 January. Police said he was a militant but his family say he was just an aspiring model.
This provided the spark for a demonstration outside the Islamabad press club in January. At first nobody took much notice, but then numbers began to swell. A shipping container turned up and they made it a stage with a sound system and began making speeches, some extremely critical of the security establishment.

After 10 days it had evolved into a wider movement for the “liberation of Pashtun people from the tyranny” of Pakistan’s security establishment.

People come from far and wide to the rallies, many with pictures of the missing in search of information.
“I only knew the conditions in my own area. But when we heard stories from other areas – from Swat, or Bajaur – we realised that it was the same all over,” Manzoor Pashteen says.

He relates one incident that led to protests two weeks before his arrest last October.

A bomb had killed a soldier in the village of Shamkai in South Waziristan.

“The army clamped a curfew in the area, and ordered all people to come out of their homes,” he says. “They made the women sit to one side and tortured the men one by one in front them. One epileptic boy died during torture while his mother and father were watching.”

The BBC put these claims to the military, but received no response.

But many say it is still fair to ask if Pashtuns could be partly to blame for allowing their youth to join militancy. It is a question that Manzoor Pashteen dismisses.

“The Pakistani state promoted militancy. It used Islam as a motivating factor,” he says.

“These are not my words. These are the words of Colonel Imam [a former ISI operative] who said he trained 95,000 youth; or the words of then army chief Pervez Musharraf, who said ‘we trained them, we brought mujahideen from all over the world, and they were our heroes’.

“When it suits them to bomb us, they’ll bomb us; when it suits them to send us rations, they’ll send us rations; when it suits them to set our people to kill others, they will train them and facilitate them,” Manzoor Pashteen says.

“Waziristan is their captured territory. It took us tribals 30 years to find out that we fought the Russians not for Islam, but for American money.”


Source: BBC News, Islamabad By: M Ilyas Khan