A Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement activist distributes invitations to people in the busy Peshawar Saddar for the upcoming rally. — Dawn
A Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement activist distributes invitations to people in the busy Peshawar Saddar for the upcoming rally. — Dawn

PESHAWAR: The young men and women walked around at busy markets of Peshawar to invite people to the public meeting of Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) and create awareness among them about the movement.

PTM has planned to hold a grand gathering in Peshawar on Sunday.

“Do you know who Manzoor Pashtoon is? Do you know what PTM is all about? We would be gathering to raise voice for the rights of Pakhutun on Ring Road on Sunday. Please do come with your family,” said Sana Ijaz, a rights activist, who handed over a pamphlet, which was also an invitation, to an elderly vendor. The vendor nodded yes to all her queries.

“Do bring female members of your family as there would be separate place for them,” shouted Wranga Lunrai from behind. She is a college student, who travelled to Peshawar to take part in preparations for the April 8 gathering of PTM. Her brother was also busy in handing out invitations to people in Gora Bazaar with other young men.

The young activists going from one vendor to another in Sadder Bazaar, one of the busiest markets of the city, not only attracted attention of people because unlike other women busy in shopping they were handing them pamphlets but also verbally explaining in colloquial Pashto to the uneducated the purpose of April 8 public meeting. They were telling them as to why it was important for all young and old, men and women to take part in the non-political gathering and discuss issues faced by Pakhtuns.

Samiullah, who was holding pamphlets-cum-invitations and walking behind them, was not only providing them moral support but also a ride. He is a businessman, who had come all the way from Dubai to support the PTM and take part in the April 8 gathering.

“I am ready to give my life, my energies and anything I have for the Pukhtuns. I support PTM because it is fighting for the protection of Pakhtuns,” he said.

While Saddar Market was a bit easy to handle, the activist moved to Andar Sher Bazaar in Old Peshawar city the job even got tougher as there were daily wagers, shopkeepers and labourers of whom some could not even read the pamphlet and needed explanation of what the invitation was about.

Among the ogling crowd, a mix of young and old gathered at Chowk Yadgar, some people said that they had not heard of PTM but added that they would like to know about it so would be going to the April 8 gathering for sure.

“I work at an ornament shop but I would go to this gathering to know more about PTM,” said Salman, a young boy as he read the pamphlet and was convinced that all the problems highlighted in the pamphlets were the issues every Pakhtun faced for more than a decade.

Some shopkeepers rudely told the activists to get out as they thought the women were there for some charity while majority of the vendors looked wide-eyed with amazement at women clad in traditional white chuddar speaking about the rights of Pakhtuns and inviting them to a gathering.

“Is it a political party’s gathering?” asked a bearded middle-aged goldsmith in ironic tone.

“No, It is a gathering of Pakhtuns like you and me to discuss the problems we face ad find a way out,” replied one of the activists and moved on to extend an invitation to another shopkeeper peeing out of window of his shop with keen interest.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2018