PTM's Manzoor Pashteen arrested in Peshawar, sent on 14-day judicial remand

Published January 27, 2020
PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen gestures as police shift him from Peshawar's Judicial Complex. — Photo provided by Sirajuddin
PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen gestures as police shift him from Peshawar's Judicial Complex. — Photo provided by Sirajuddin

Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen was sent to Peshawar's Central Jail on a 14-day judicial remand by a magistrate hours after he was arrested from the city's Shaheen Town on Monday.

The PTM leader was produced before a magistrate in Judicial Complex, Peshawar, where strict security arrangements were made prior to his arrival.

The court will hold a hearing tomorrow to decide whether a transitory remand can be granted in order to move Pashteen to Dera Ismail Khan, where a first information report (FIR) has been registered against him.

According to police, a case was registered against the PTM chief at the City Police Station in DI Khan on Jan 18 under sections 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 124 (sedition), and 123-A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

According to the FIR, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Pashteen and other PTM leaders had attended a gathering on Jan 18 in DI Khan where the PTM chief had allegedly said that the 1973 Constitution violated basic human rights.

The FIR added that Pashteen also made derogatory remarks about the state.

Police had also arrested nine other PTM workers who were identified as Muhammad Salam, Abdul Hameed, Idrees, Bilal, Mohib, Sajjadul Hassan, Aimal, Farooq and Muhammad Salman.

Tahkal police station official Shiraz Khan had confirmed the arrests.

Taking to Twitter, senior PTM leader and MNA Mohsin Dawar said: "This is our punishment for demanding our rights in a peaceful and democratic manner. Manzoor's arrest will only strengthen our resolve. We demand the immediate release of Manzoor Pashteen."

He urged PTM workers and supporters to remain calm in the wake of the arrest. "We will devise a strategy after consultations. We are up against those who are most troubled by demands for constitutional rights, and we will continue doing that."

He announced that PTM will hold an emergency press conference at the Islamabad Press Club at 3pm and urged party workers to show their support.

PPP, senators call for immediate release

The PPP, in a statement today, demanded that Pashteen be released immediately and that a dialogue be initiated between the government and the youth of tribal areas. The statement said that PTM's demands were "legitimate" and "will not be swept aside by arresting Manzoor Pashteen".

The statement, issued by General Secretary of PPP's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter Faisal Kundi, said that "political arrests only aggravate the situation and [do] not help resolve political issues"

"It is most foolish and highly condemnable that the voice of tribal youth is being silenced through brute state force at a time when there is urgent need for a dialogue," the statement read. Kundi further said that Pashteen was arrested just days after Defence Minister Pervez Khattak offered to hold dialogue with the activists.

Senators Usman Kakar and Hasil Bizenjo, during the Senate session today, demanded the release of Pashteen.

"Manzoor Pashteen is an internationally popular leader," Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party's Kakar said. "His arrest will garner a major reaction."

Kakar said that for the past two years, Pashteen had carried out a "democratic struggle" for "democratic demands".

Following Pashteen's arrest, #ReleaseManzoorPashteen started trending on Twitter with various politicians and human rights activists calling for his release.

Human rights group Amnesty International also called for Pashteen's "immediate and unconditional" release.

Taking to Twitter, the group said: "Manzoor Pashteen has been arbitrarily detained for exercising his human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. He must be released immediately and unconditionally."

PTM movement

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.

The party has been critical of the state's policies in the country's tribal belt, where a massive operation against terrorists was conducted in recent times leading to large-scale displacement and enforced disappearances.

PTM's leaders, in particular its elected members to the National Assembly, have come under fire for pursuing the release of individuals detained by authorities without due process. The army alleges the party of running an anti-national agenda and for playing into the hands of the state's enemies.

Last year, two of PTM's MNAs — Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir — were arrested by police after a protest gathering in Kharqamar for allegedly using violence and clashing with army personnel. The party while rejecting these allegations, insisted that theirs is a peaceful struggle for the rights of people from the country's tribal belt.

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