Senate committee holds 'historic' meeting with PTM leadership, calls for prompt resolution of demands
A special Senate committee formed to address the problems of the aggrieved sections of the society held a meeting with the leaders of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) on Tuesday to discuss the issues faced by the Pashtun community.
The meeting was chaired by Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif and was attended by PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen, MNA Mohsin Dawar and the movement's other representatives.
Senators Dr Jahanzaib Jamaldini, Sitara Ayaz, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Sajjad Hussain Turi, Hidayatullah, Dilawar Khan, Fida Muhammad, Naseebullah Bazai, Sardar Shafiq Tareen, Sameena Saeed, Khanzada Khan, Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi, Pir Sabir Shah, and Mushahidullah Khan were also in attendance.
According to a statement issued by the committee, the forum was "created so that solutions can be found to the problems of the aggrieved sections of the society for promoting national cohesion and integration".
Addressing the committee, Senator Saif said that "social injustices can be addressed under the provisions of law and Constitution", adding that the Senate being a house of the federation "is representative of the federating units where not only the problems and grievances of different segments are discussed and debated but also tangible solutions are worked out through a consultative process".
The senator welcomed the PTM leadership at the Parliament House and acknowledged that while the Pashtun have "their own traditions which provide the mechanism for resolution of the disputes through dialogue and Jirga system", this committee would "serve as a bridge to address PTM's grievances, under a thorough consultative process".
The three-hour-long discussion "provided [attendees] an opportunity to understand the issues [presented] and learn from each other", said the statement.
The committee proposed that the PTM leadership appoint a focal person "for effective coordination and to present its demands in black and white so that these may be deliberated by the committee".
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"The head of the PTM apprised the committee of their demands and grievances," the statement reads. "He said that measures must be taken for resolving the issue of the missing persons, de-mining of the land mines and for the constitution of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to restore the confidence of the people of the area.
"He posed his complete confidence in the Senate Special Committee and appreciated its suggestions for resolving the issues."
"The members of the Special Committee, agreeing with the demands of the PTM, called for their prompt solution," the statement added.
The members termed the meeting "a historic day" and reiterated that "the process of dialogue would continue".
“PTM is the movement of the erstwhile tribal area and they have complaints against the government and the government’s institutions,” Saif told DawnNewsTV, adding that now they have an opportunity to discuss their issues with the government.
“Our committee is the government’s committee and we have the power to address their grievances,” said Saif.
Saif said that PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen talked about missing persons, targeted killing, properties damaged and militancy in the tribal belt.
“PTM has no exact record of missing persons. Manzoor told the committee that nearly 7,000 Pakhtuns are missing,” Saif said while sharing the details of the meeting.
“The committee has asked PTM to submit its demands in written so that it could forward the same to the government.”
PTM is a rights-based alliance that, besides calling for the de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement in the latter, has insisted on an end to the practices of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and unlawful detentions, and for the practitioners of these to be held to account within a truth and reconciliation framework.
It continues to hold protests, most recently on Sunday in Miranshah, which are attended by large crowds.