Peshawar rally calls for release of missing people

Published April 9, 2018
PESHAWAR: Women hold pictures of their missing relatives during a demonstration on Sunday.—Shahbaz Butt / White Star
PESHAWAR: Women hold pictures of their missing relatives during a demonstration on Sunday.—Shahbaz Butt / White Star

PESHAWAR: A large demonstration was held in Peshawar on Sunday under the auspices of the Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) demanding immediate release of missing persons.

Similar rallies were also organised in Karachi and outside White House in Washington.

PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen while calling for release of missing persons said, “We have already burnt our boats and this movement will continue until the last missing person is released”.

Women, children turn up to attend the large gathering

He said their campaign would remain peaceful.

Hundreds of people, including women and children, whose relatives had been missing were in attendance at the Peshawar rally. They came from different tribal agencies and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, holding portraits of their missing relatives.

Organisers announced that guests from Afghanistan were also attending the rally, but none of them was invited to address the crowd.

The PTM will hold next rallies in Lahore on April 22 and in Swat on April 29, said Mr Pashteen, a resident of South Waziristan Agency.

He called for the trial of the spokesman for the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Ehsan­ullah Ehsan, who had surrendered to the security forces in April last year.

He also demanded trial of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and an inquiry by a judicial commission into the massacre of students and teachers of the Army Public School, Peshawar, in a terrorist attack on Dec 16, 2014.

Women Democratic Forum president Asmat Shah Jehan in her speech called for the protection of women’s rights. She expressed the hope that the PTM would come up to the expectations of people.

Another activist Sana Ijaz said it was for the first time that women were fully participating in a movement.

Shabina Ayaz of Aurat Foundation said that she was not a Pakhtun but fully supported the cause of the PTM.

Manzoor Pashteen said that “good Taliban” in South Waziristan were threatening the PTM supporters not to go to Peshawar for the rally. He did not give details about the identity of “good Taliban”.

Mr Pashteen rejected the allegation that the PTM was dancing to the tune of foreign agencies. He said that the PTM’s struggle was all about protecting the fundamental rights of people.

“We are not anyone’s agents,” he said.

He said that militancy and military operations had adversely affected the economic condition of Pakhtun people.

“Businesses have closed down and industrial units have moved out of the region due to lawlessness and extortion,” he said.

Senator Usman Kakar of the Pakhtunkhwha Milli Awami Party, Ali Wazir and others also spoke.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2018

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