PTM rally attracts missing persons’ families in large number

Published April 9, 2018
Demonstrators of Pashtun Protection Movement gather at a public rally in Peshawar on April 8, 2018.  — AFP
Demonstrators of Pashtun Protection Movement gather at a public rally in Peshawar on April 8, 2018. — AFP
A family from a Pakistani tribal area display pictures of a missing family member during a rally in Peshawar on April 8, 2018. ─The Associated Press.
A family from a Pakistani tribal area display pictures of a missing family member during a rally in Peshawar on April 8, 2018. ─The Associated Press.
A view of the Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement's (PTM) rally in Peshawar on Sunday. — Photo by Arif Hayat
A view of the Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement's (PTM) rally in Peshawar on Sunday. — Photo by Arif Hayat

PESHAWAR: The Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement drew families of the missing persons from all over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata in large number on Sunday to its first public meeting in the provincial capital.

“In just two hours, we have received a list of some 2,000 missing persons. The families have come here to tell the state to let them know about their missing loved ones,” said Manzoor Pashteen, the head of PTM, pointing towards the old women holding photos of their missing sons.

He said that those women had come there to know about their missing family members. He hoped that they would not have to come again and again for the same issue to such gatherings. He called upon the gathering of young and old men and women to get united for that would be their strength to protect themselves. In response when people chanted his name he chanted ‘Pakhtun’ and ‘power to Pakhtun’ instead.

Women attend the public meeting till end despite rain

The participants of the public meeting, organised by PTM on Ring Road, was an emotionally charged crowd. Young and old participants had come from different parts of KP and tribal areas including wives, children, mothers and fathers of the missing persons. They were holding the photos and details of where and when their loved ones were picked up during the last decade or so.

Aki Khan, a resident of Miramshah, North Waziristan, was holding the photo of his son Sahib, who had gone missing since June 2016. Khalil from Bakhso Pull was holding the name and details of his son Naqeebullah, who had gone missing since October 2014.

Scores of women wearing shuttle-cock burqa and holding photos of their missing sons from Swat, Peshawar, Nowshera, Darra Adamkhel and Mohmand, Bajaur and Khyber Agencies and many other places spoke of their misery for not knowing if their missing family members were alive or killed.

Many women participants of the public meeting stayed till the very last despite rain at the open ground, chanting slogans for solidarity of Pakhtuns.

“Usually when women come to a gathering they are not aware of the purpose but women here are aware as to why they are here and nobody teases or harasses any woman because it is a serious crowd gathered on serious issues,” said Naheed, a member of Tribal Women Network.

Wranga Lunrai, a college student hailing from Quetta, said that there was no violence and entire gathering took place peacefully remaining within the freedom given by the Constitution of Pakistan.

Emotionally charged crowed hailed Wranga Lunrai, who also spoke to the crowd about how important it was to gather and be united to get rights for the Pakhtuns. She said that PTM should continue to hold peaceful gatherings repeatedly with the same names to show that Pakhtuns were united and determined to get their rights ensured and guaranteed in the Constitution.

Palwasha, who had come from Islamabad to take part in the gathering, said that she had attended public meetings of political parties but there was never such discipline and respect for women as she witnessed in the PTM gathering. She said that it was heartening to see that many women, in search for their missing sons and husbands, had come there. They showed trust in PTM to raise their voice and resolve their issue, she added.

Many participants spoke about hardships they faced in the times of militancy in their areas and then having gone through more misery even after military operations were conducted to end militancy. Many complained that their sons and husbands were picked up and they had never heard from them or about them from anyone.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2018

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