PESHAWAR: MNA Mohsin Dawar of North Waziristan tribal district along with a corps of nationalist leaders on Wednesday announced the launch of the National Democratic Movement, apparently breaking ranks with the Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and its poster boy, Manzoor Pashteen.
After months long indoor deliberations and consultations, the NDM was launched during a ceremony here to make a struggle to promote secular federal democratic parliamentary system in the country.
It comprises some disgruntled leaders of the Awami National Party, rights activists and leftists along with the workers of the PTM and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party.
Former general secretary of the ANP Afrasiab Khattak, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and former MNA Abdul Latif Afridi, former MNAs Bushra Gohar and Jamila Gillani and former Senator Bashir Matta are the prominent figures, who worked out the structure of the party.
Mr Khattak, Latif Afridi, Bushra Gohar and Jamila Gillani were expelled by the ANP for ‘violating discipline’.
The new party has entered the political fray at a time when the region is in the grip of an unprecedented geopolitical upheaval after the toppling of the Kabul government by the Afghan Taliban in the aftermath of the withdrawal of the US forces from the country.
Mohsin Dawar insists Nationalist Democratic Movement won’t weaken PTM
MNA Mohsin Dawar, one of the founding members of the PTM, has been made the chairperson of the nine-member organising committee. The party will soon start a membership drive across the country.
The organising committee will form committees at the provincial, divisional, district and tehsil level across the country to elect office bearers through election.
The party’s interim constitution was also unveiled on the occasion.
Analysts say the NDM will be a setback for the PTM, a youth rights movement, which was launched in 2018 to protect the fundamental rights of the people in the newly-merged districts of former Fata and raise voice against human rights violations in the militancy-hit region.
Significantly, the PTM had announced that it would not take part in parliamentary politics and would not contest elections. However, Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir contested the 2018 general elections as independent candidates and were elected MNAs.
MNA Mohsin Dawar, during his maiden presser, dispelled the impression that the NDM would cause a setback to the PTM, and said the PTM was a rights movement which provided platform to other political parties.
“The PTM is a joint movement and we remained part of it. I don’t think that the NDM will weaken the PTM,” he said, adding that the NDM would support the movement.
He said detained MNA Ali Wazir was also consulted before the launch of the party.
Announcing basic principles of the party, Mr Dawar said the NDM would forge greater alliance and unity among the oppressed ethnic groups of society.
He said political workers in the country, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ‘felt political vacuum’, so there was a dire need for a new democratic force.
He said the youth, who were 64 per cent of the country’s total population, would be in the driving seat of the party.
“Youth do not have representation in the country’s political process and the dilemma is that our political parties do not have the democratic culture to give opportunity to the younger lot to come forward,” he said.
The lawmaker said the main principle of the NDM was the formation of impartial, peaceful and tolerant society in which all citizens would enjoy equal rights.
He said the party would struggle for a new social contract among the federating units that would be based on justice and recognise rights on natural, financial and human resources.
He said the NDM was passing through transitional period and its manifesto and organisational structure would be formulated after the completion of the membership drive.
On the occasion, former Senator Afrasiab Khattak said the political parties had surrendered to the powerful military establishment and that the constitutional rights of the people had been usurped.
He said the oppressed nationalities in the country would be contacted from the platform of the NDM, while the youth would be given the lead role in the party.
Mr Khattak said conspiracies were being hatched to push Pakhtuns back to the colonial era.
He said the army generals wanted the enforcement of Shariah system in Afghanistan but wanted to impose a martial law in Pakistan.
He said interference in the Afghan affairs should be stopped.
Referring to the prevailing situation in Afghanistan, Mr Khattak said the enemies had attacked Kabul and Kandahar to push Afghans back to the darkness.
“The enemy should understand that Peshawar has now become the new centre and they could not silence Pakhtuns,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously referred to the party as Nationalist Democratic Movement. The correct name is National Democratic Movement. The error is regretted.
Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2021