The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) held a public gathering in Bannu on Sunday during which prominent leaders, including Manzoor Pashteen and MNAs Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, addressed the crowd.
The gathering, held at Mundan Park, came after a 7-month hiatus following the arrest of Dawar and Wazir — independent members from the tribal areas backed by the PTM — last year and was attended by a large number of supporters from south and north Waziristan, Peshawar and other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa attended the public gathering.
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 their practitioners to be held to account within a truth and reconciliation framework.
During today's rally, the movement's leadership announced the formation of a jirga to convince Pakhtun leaders to join the PTM to strengthen its cause and jointly fight for Pakhtuns' rights.
“We want the unity of Pakhtuns,” said Manzoor Pashteen while addressing the gathering.
“Pakhtuns have suffered for long and are still suffering,” he said, asking that Pakhtun political leaders unite. Pashteen added that they were not opposing any political party or Pakhtun leader.
“We want peace and justice, but unfortunately, new waves of targeted killings have been seen in former tribal belt and justice is not being served,” Pashteen alleged, adding that PTM leaders' resolve to fight for their rights has only gotten stronger with time.
He added that PTM is a civil movement, not a political party, and will continue to struggle for the rights of Pakhtuns.
“I assure you, PTM will always stand by you in any difficult time," Pashteen told the gathering.
MNAs Dawar and Wazir also addressed the gathering.
“Today’s big gathering proves that PTM is alive and has strong roots among Pakhtuns,” Dawar said, adding that the movement "will never stop".
Dawar thanked the supporters for attending the gathering despite rain and harsh cold weather.
The gathering was also addressed by Arman Loni's sister. Loni, a prominent PTM leader, died allegedly during a police crackdown on a sit-in in Balochistan's Loralai on February 2, 2019.
PTM will hold a public gathering in Balochistan in February on Loni's death anniversary.