PTM's Arif Wazir dies in Islamabad hospital after gun attack in Wana

Updated May 02, 2020

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Ali Wazir's cousin had sustained multiple injuries in a gun attack by unidentified assailants in Wana. — Photo from Twitter
Ali Wazir's cousin had sustained multiple injuries in a gun attack by unidentified assailants in Wana. — Photo from Twitter

Arif Wazir, a leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), died in Islamabad on Saturday after being attacked a day ago by unidentified assailants outside his home in Wana, South Waziristan.

Wana Station House Officer Usman Khan confirmed Wazir had passed away after being shifted to Islamabad for treatment.

The police official said a first-information report (FIR) of the incident had been lodged at the Wana police station.

According to another official, on Friday Arif Wazir was strolling outside his residence in Ghwa Khwa, near Wana, when armed persons opened fire from a moving vehicle. The official had told Dawn that Arif Wazir received life-threatening injuries.

He was initially admitted to the District Headquarters Hospital, Wana, but later shifted to an Islamabad hospital.

Arif Wazir is the first cousin of MNA Ali Wazir. Seven members of Arif Wazir’s family were killed in a clash with militants near Wana in 2007. His father, Saadullah Jan, and uncle, Mirza Alam, were among the dead.

Arif Wazir was released from jail on bail about one month ago.

Rights group Amnesty International in a statement on Saturday said authorities must carry out an independent and effective investigation into the attack on Arif Wazir, and that the suspected perpetrators must be held accountable.

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 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, 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.

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.