PTM’s Manzoor Pashteen booked under terrorism charges for speech at Asma Jahangir Conference

Published October 24, 2022
PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen delivers a speech at the Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore on Sunday. — Photo: Twitter
PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen delivers a speech at the Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore on Sunday. — Photo: Twitter

The police on Monday booked Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen under sections of terrorrism for “criticising heads and generals of the Pakistan Army” during a speech at the Asma Jahangir Conference.

The session on ‘Reluctance to Criminalise Enforced Disappearance and Arbitrary Detentions’ was also attended by Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, activist Sammi Deen Baloch and former chief minister of Balochistan and chairperson of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal Akhtar Jan Mengal among others.

During his speech on Sunday, Pashteen had named national institutions behind the killings of people in former Fata areas under the policy of “state of exceptions” imposed on Pashtun.

He had said that since 2001, normal rules were changed and a new narrative about national security was built. The new regime targeted and terrorized every journalist, individual, and group that followed independent thinking.

The PTM leader had also said that MNA Ali Wazir was being denied a production order because of his free speech. He said media, courts, parliaments, and civil society were powerless to tackle the power targeting free thinking. “The only way out is resistance.”

In a tweet a day after the session, Pashteen said that a complaint, on charges of treason and intimidation, had only been registered against him for his speech at the conference.

The complaint shared by the PTM leader was registered at the Lahore Civil Lines police station by a citizen named Naeem Mirza. It said that during his speech, Pashteen criticised the heads and generals of the Pakistan Army and their role in the war against terror.

It stated that Pashteen tried to create resistance amongst the public against the armed forces and accused them of “genocide against Pashtuns”.

During the speech, the FIR added, 15 to 20 of Pashteen’s supporters chanted slogans against the army and tried to “provoke people against the armed forces and the state”.

The complaint invoked sections 124A (sedition), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code. It also included Section 11-X (responsibility for creating civil commotion) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

In response to the case against him, Pashteen tweeted that the voices of the right against oppression could not be suppressed by FIRs, prisons or propaganda, but the only solution “is to give justice”.

Meanwhile, MNA Mohsin Dawar condemned the FIR, calling it “beyond shameful”.

“Many others have said far more in recent protests than what Manzoor said in his speech. Yet he is being charged with sedition and ATA. The ridiculous FIR should be withdrawn,” he tweeted.

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