ISLAMABAD: The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) announced on Friday that the group accepted the government’s offer for talks but stressed that the authorities should first take confidence-building measures (CBMs) to demonstrate their sincerity.
Speaking at a press conference here, PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen said the government must take steps to bridge the trust deficit, adding that it was customary for parties to take CBMs before entering into talks.
At the press conference, he was flanked by PTM-backed members of the National Assembly Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir.
Mr Pashteen mentioned in particular the FIRs that had been registered against PTM activists, many of whom, he claimed, had been put behind bars.
PTM chief, two MNAs address press conference
He said the PTM was ready to describe in detail to the authorities in “black and white” all the problems being faced by the Pashtun from Chaman to Swat.
He said that freedom of speech and freedom of expression were constitutional rights which could not be taken away. “If there are excesses, there will be a protest,” he remarked.
In response to a question, he said Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had approached the PTM to formally offer a dialogue.
Speaking on the occasion, MNA Dawar claimed that the state had failed “to protect the people and provide them with fundamental human rights”.
He said there were “curbs even on freedom of association and assembly”. “FIRs with terrorism charges are registered when we hold a public meeting.”
Mr Dawar criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for calling the slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden a “martyr” and asked the government to explain its priorities.
He said a shift in the state’s policy was a sine qua non (prerequisite) for peace and development. The country’s economy was “collapsing”, he claimed and said peace was essential for putting the economy back on track.
The parliamentarian asked the government to take all the stakeholders on board.
Mr Wazir was of the view that the Baloch and Pushtun had always been deceived in the name of talks.
Defence Minister Pervez Khattak had recently extended an invitation to leaders of the PTM to come to the negotiating table and discuss all the contentious issues with the government.
“We Pakhtun belong to the same province; therefore, we should collectively work for the development of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the minister said in a statement.
Mr Khattak said the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) had been merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in order to bring the tribal people into the national mainstream.
He said the people belonging to the tribal districts were lagging behind others in terms of education, healthcare and communication infrastructure, adding that it was high time for the leaders to work for their uplift rather than indulge in any confrontation.
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2020