Manzoor Pashtun addresses youth at the University of Peshawar on Thursday. — Dawn
Manzoor Pashtun addresses youth at the University of Peshawar on Thursday. — Dawn

PESHAWAR: Manzoor Pashtun, the 26-year-old tribesman, who is fast becoming a crowd puller across the province, called upon youth at a gathering in University of Peshawar to say no to war, disunity and a life of indignity and create a new history that the coming generations could be proud of.

“We cannot live and even die with honour in this state. It is time to speak boldly, face all odds and let the world know that we say no to all negativities of the war. We want peace and life,” said Manzoor Pashtun, who stood just about five-feet tall but his stature had grown to a leader of the political and apolitical Pakhtuns across the country since he mobilised people all the way from Dera Ismail Khan and many major cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and held a sit-in for 10 days to draw attention of the government to the plight of people of Fata.

Heading Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement with his simple words but clear message, he held the youth, mostly associated with student federations, spellbound. Quoting from an interview of retired Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch, he said that Pakhtuns did not plan any war themselves but they were ‘used’ by the state.

He said that it proved that residents of the Pakhtun belt were not terrorists but the war was imposed on them. “We have seen mothers getting only burnt bones of their sons killed in a fake encounter. We ourselves buried sacks full of burnt body parts after bombings and blasts. Such is life and death in tribal areas,” he added.

Manzoor says Pakhtun youth on way to making history

Mr Pashtun said that they didn’t want more bloodshed. “We now want the hand shedding our blood to stop,” he said. He went on to explain that Pakhtunwali, which was also a code of life, was not followed by Pakhtun in the recent history. “They (Pakhtuns) never joined hands, as is tradition of Chegha (shouting out loud to gather support of the tribe to deal with a menace) to fight the evil in their home and thus they were displaced after immense misery,” he said. He urged the youth to get united despite their political and other differences as it was their strength.

“Break the shackles. Your shackle is your disunity. Once you are united no one can dare even slap you,” said Mr Pashtun. He said that it was dream of the Pakhtun leaders to see them united but what was different in the PTM and other past movement was the number as well as passion of the youth.

“People tell me to learn from history and read more. I don’t want to read about past. I want the youth to make their own history that coming generation could be proud of,” he said amid heavy applause.

A number of young men, who heard his speech in a spring afternoon in Fakir Ipi Lawn of the campus, said that they could compare his with Bacha Khan’s for stressing on peace and unity of Pakhtuns.

Abdul Basir Mehsud, who also hails from South Waziristan, says what Manzoor is speaking is truth. He has gone through a lot, he was imprisoned and tortured along with his friends but he stood up for others.

Goharullah, a geology student, who also hails from South Waziristan, says that he has been shot and his family member also got injured due to conflict. “He is speaking for us all. He is a leader all of us were waiting for years,” he adds.

Manzoor Pashtun after speaking at the gathering left for Swat where he would be addressing a gathering being held in protest against registering of FIRs under Anti-Terrorism Act against those, who had protested strict checking at security checkpoints in Swat.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2018