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Senate body urges security forces, PTM to exercise restraint

Updated May 31, 2019

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A Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement delegation headed by Manzoor Pashteen briefed a Senate special committee on the Kharqamar check post incident. ─ Photo courtesy Barrister Saif Twitter
A Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement delegation headed by Manzoor Pashteen briefed a Senate special committee on the Kharqamar check post incident. ─ Photo courtesy Barrister Saif Twitter

ISLAMABAD: A Senate special committee on Thursday urged the security forces and the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) to exercise restraint, stressing the need for resolving the crisis created after the May 26 incident in North Waziristan through negotiations.

Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif, the convener of the Senate special committee formed to “examine purported grievances amongst some sections of the society and reach out/engage with the genuinely aggrieved persons to create national cohesion”, said the PTM issue was “political” in nature and its solution lay in dialogue, according to an official handout issued by the Senate Secretariat after an in-camera meeting.

The committee’s convener called for devising a roadmap for making further progress on the issue while stressing the need for taking measures to restore confidence and remove “misunderstandings”.

Barrister Saif made these remarks after a PTM delegation headed by its chief Manzoor Pashteen briefed the committee members on the May 26 violent incident at the Kharqamar check post in North Waziristan in which three people were killed and 10 others were injured.

During the first interaction between the PTM and the parliamentarians after the Waziristan incident, Mr Pashteen, however, challenged the official figures and claimed that 14 people had lost their lives and 46 others received injuries in the check post incident. He also alleged that the injured people were facing difficulties in getting treatment. He said the people of the area were facing great hardship due to the imposition of curfew in the area.

The PTM chief demanded formation of an “independent commission or committee” to hold an investigation into the Waziristan incident to know the facts. He also called for immediate release of MNA Ali Wazir and others.

Mr Pashteen said the affairs in the area should be run through the civil administration in order to provide relief to people.

Committee member Sabir Shah lauded the PTM leadership for reposing confidence in the committee, saying they would try to play the role of a mediator. He said the committee would also approach the army to find out a “positive solution” to the problem.

The senator appreciated the armed forces for defending the country’s frontiers, saying “it is our own army”.

The committee termed the Waziristan incident “regrettable” and asked both the PTM and the armed forces to exercise restraint realising the sensitivity of the issue.

Senator Mir Kabir said the issues of the PTM and Balochistan should be resolved through dialogue. Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal termed the PTM’s demands legitimate and urged the state to play the role of a mother.

The PTM members reposed their confidence in the Senate panel and nominated a committee comprising Kashif Azam, Liaquat Yousufzai and Mr Saleem for keeping coordination with the committee.

The PTM members had previously attended the meeting of the same Senate committee in April and apprised the members of their demands and grievances.

After listening to the grievances of the PTM leaders, the special committee had decided to continue “consultative process” to resolve the outstanding issues.

In the previous meeting, the PTM leaders had reportedly expressed concern over the media blackout of their activities, saying that due to a bar on the media from highlighting their activities, they had no forum to express their grievances and present their viewpoint. The committee members had agreed with most of the PTM’s demands and called for their prompt solution.

Separately, the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, headed by PPP’s Rehman Malik, rejected a report regarding ‘gunfire by security forces on a protest in Waziristan’ in August last year and directed the ministries of interior and defence to submit a fresh report.

The issue had been referred to the committee by the Senate chairman when it was raised by Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Senator Usman Kakar in the house in September last year.

During the meeting of the committee, Mr Kakar said he was not satisfied with the inquiry report as it mentioned no “proper cause” for the incident.

Moreover, he wondered how the interior ministry could submit a reply on behalf of the security forces and said the defence ministry should submit a report.

Agreeing to Mr Kakar’s point, the committee chairman directed the two ministries to submit a joint report.

Ikram Junaidi also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2019