State broadcaster Radio Pakistan in an unprecedented move on Tuesday claimed that MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir — who are also leaders of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) — were "facilitating anti-Pakistan forces to destabilise Pakistan".
In a brief, two-line news report published by the state broadcaster earlier today, both Wazir and Dawar — who are elected members of the National Assembly from the country's tribal areas — were referred to simply as "PTM leaders".
Highlighting first that both men had received "special protocol by the Afghanistan army" upon their arrival in Kabul where they were attending the oath-taking ceremony of Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, the report goes on to say that they were "fulfilling the vested agenda of India through Afghanistan", without providing any details to back the startling claim.
However, the report was later removed from Radio Pakistan's website and tweets by the state broadcaster's official account were also deleted.
On Sunday, immigration officials at Islamabad International Airport had barred Wazir and Dawar from boarding a Kabul-bound flight as their names are on the Exit Control List (ECL).
Later in the day, however, the government announced that it had given one-time permission to the duo on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan to travel to Afghanistan to attend the oath-taking ceremony.
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 has alleged the party of running an anti-national agenda and for playing into the hands of the state's enemies.
The party while rejecting these allegations, has insisted that theirs is a peaceful struggle for the rights of people from the country's tribal belt.
Last year, Dawar and Wazir were arrested by police after a protest gathering in Kharqamar for allegedly using violence and clashing with army personnel.
This year in January, PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen was arrested from Peshawar's Shaheen Town for making a speech in Dera Ismail Khan during which he allegedly said that the 1973 Constitution violated basic human rights. The FIR said Pashteen also made derogatory remarks about the state.
A day later, Dawar was arrested briefly from outside the Islamabad press club alongside several other individuals while protesting Pashteen's detention.
Pashteen was later released on bail on January 25.