Civil right movements shouldn’t be suppressed

Protests play an important part in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural life of all societies. Historically, protests have often inspired positive social change and improved protection of human rights, and they continue to help define and protect civic space in all parts of the world.
Indeed, protests encourage the development of an engaged and informed citizenry and strengthen representative democracy by enabling direct participation in public affairs. They enable individuals and groups to express dissent and grievances, to share views and opinions, to expose flaws in governance and to publicly demand that the authorities and other powerful entities rectify problems and are accountable for their actions.
A civil rights movement in Pakistan is demanding security, rights, and accountability for the suffering of the country’s ethnic Pashtun minority, whose members have endured large-scale violence, destruction, and displacement over more than 15 years of fighting.
The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) or Pashtun Protection Movement, however, has faced coercion, censorship, and allegations of promoting foreign agendas after demanding that Islamabad probe illegal killings and enforced disappearances and conduct demining and end harsh security measures curbing civilian life in their homeland.
In a recent move, the Pakistani Police has arrested the PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen in Peshawar City on Sunday night. Leaders of PTM called on their supporters to hold protest demonstrations on January 28 to demand the release of Manzoor Pashteen.
Meanwhile in a tweet President Ghani said that he was troubled by the arrest of Manzoor Pashteen and his colleagues. “I fully echo the concerns raised by Amnesty International in this regard and hope for their immediate release. While our region is suffering from atrocities caused by violent extremism and terrorism, governments in the region must support and encourage peaceful civilian movements for justice and must avoid any means of force and violence against these movements,” the president tweeted on Monday.
For decades, Pakistan’s powerful military has been in control of the country’s politics whether directly, as during several decades of military dictatorships, or indirectly, as during attempts by civilian leaders to reassert their authority in the 1970s, 1990s, and after 2008.
Over the decades, the majority of civilians and politicians have shied away from raising questions about what they may privately acknowledge is the military’s encroachment on civilian politics.
Meanwhile, when PTM appeared on the scene and challenged the nexus of military and militant, this civic rights and anti-Taliban political movement was dubbed by Pakistan army as Indian and Afghan funded movement. Scores of PTM members have been arrested, tortured and booked in terror and anti-state charges.”
Pakistan should do more to persuade and encourage such movements that emerged only to demand justice for a deprived community. The neighboring country’s military establishment should stop blackmailing PTM and instead focus on weeding out terrorism from the Pashtun belt and stop the deadly series of target killings.
The government of Pakistan need to work with the movement and address their demands and ensure justice in Pashtun community. Using force and violence would not bear any positive result, rather would help increase number of haters that would strongly challenge the country’s both civil and military establishments.

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