Pashtun Tahafuz Movement's (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen, in an interview with Al Jazeera, said that the protesters want to settle their demands in court so that there is an "assurance of the agreement".

"We want to end this issue within Pakistan, but if it doesn't happen, then we will take the issue to the United Nations and appeal to the global society to stand with us in these hard times," said Pashteen in the interview that was published on Monday.

A large demonstration by PTM was held in Peshawar on Sunday, demanding immediate release of missing persons as well as provision of basic human rights.

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

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

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

"When we started the long march last month, only 22 people were with me. But very soon, thousands joined us," said Pashteen while speaking to Al Jazeera. "Our next step is to mobilise as many people as possible, to unite and demand our rights under the Constitution."

Speaking on how the movement could make a difference in Pakistan, he said the biggest benefit would be Pakistan's stability. "Extrajudicial killings and missing persons are not unique to Pakhtuns. If a commission is formed to solve these issues, it will also benefit others."

"If the state can address the grievances of Pakhtuns, who have experienced violence and injustice and yet have protested peacefully, it will set a new precedent."

When asked about efforts to discredit the movement, Pashteen said that the protesters raising their voices were being labelled as 'foreign agents'. "But we are simple people talking about peace and harmony. How is demanding a peaceful life part of a foreign agenda?"

Pashteen had also rejected the allegation — that the PTM was dancing to the tune of foreign agencies — at the Peshawar rally. “We are not anyone’s agents,” he had said.

Reiterating his vow from the rally for the campaign to remain peaceful, he told Al Jazeera: "There are people who want our movement to turn violent, but we will respond peacefully as we have done so far."

"And should they try to harm us, the decision will be up to the entire Pakhtun community."

During the rally on Sunday, Pashteen had said that “good Taliban” in South Waziristan were threatening the PTM supporters not to go to Peshawar for the gathering. He, however, did not give details about the identity of the “good Taliban”.

He had 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.

The PTM will hold next rallies in Lahore on April 22 and in Swat on April 29.


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