It has been a week that thousands of Pashtuns man, women, youth have gathered outside the press club in Islamabad highlighting human rights violations against their community. The march began with demand ‘justice for Naqibullah’ A young Pashtun shopkeeper killed in a fake police encounter on January 13 in the financial heart of Pakistan, Karachi and claimed that he was a Taliban militant. Nonviolent struggle, peaceful resistance, revolution or whatever term you use for the current PashtunMarch its actually the outcome brutalities and injustice towards Pashtun.
Situation in FATA
For decades the people of FATA have enormously suffered from militarism and terrorism and remained the most neglected, deprived and forgotten part in Pakistan. Since the 9/11 the tribal areas witnessed more than 10 big operations for countering militancy and are still continuing in one or other form. FATA became the victim of both terrorist and counter-terrorism which destroyed the social, cultural, traditional and political life of the tribal society. The military operations and terrorist attacks have deeply disturbed the socio-psychological fabric of society according to a report “Violence is prevailing in FATA as the Taliban’s, foreign fighters and drone attacks worsen the condition of the area. The damage to infrastructure and human losses includes destruction and damage of public buildings, schools, hospitals, clinics and lives lost and injuries sustained and the Internally Displaced Persons that were forced to migrate to escape violence and damage to privately owned property” according to another report “There is no internet facility in FATA and people have been disconnected from national and international mainstream which is a right violation. Those among FATA people I mean social and human rights activists raise voice of concern are targeted and silenced. They are persecuted intimidated and harassed. NGOs are not allowed to interact with people at ground in FATA. Media is not allowed to work independently and with fairness. FATA is like a hell where people have been caged”
Pashtun Long March – Peaceful resistance
For years Pashtuns became the prime target be that cold war against the former Soviet Union or 9/11 war on terror. FATA have constantly been targeted for providing sanctuaries to local and transnational militant organizations. They have been suffering by the armed conflict yet their sufferings and tortures remain unnoticed and were justified as the war on terror however ironically when terrorist carried attack in Lahore, “there was a widespread crackdown against anyone who merely looked Pashtun or Afghan. Official and unofficial circulars and notices were distributed by the police specifically targeting the Pashtuns and portraying all of them as suspected terrorists” Labeling a certain ethnic group is a harmful act and emotionally damaging. Labeling someone means creating boundaries or putting them in a box, no matter what they do or say, they can’t get out of that box. The label defines them. In the scenario, Pashtun is put in the box and labeled terrorist given this fact and in the light of such an injustice thus Pashtun have every right and every reason to protest.
Today they are gathered encounter and change the damaging stereotypes, Pashtun war-loving, barbaric individuals and confront pro-terror and anti-Pashtun policies. They are mobilizing in the most peaceful, disciplined and constructive way to struggle effectively for justice and reaffirmed their commitment to nonviolence of Bacha Khan.
The protest isn’t against they government its about peace and stability its against Pashtun genocide, state-sponsored terrorism and human rights violations in FATA like the Afghan President Said “Pashtun Long March is a protest movement led by young Pashtuns from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where they have long been the targets of military operations, internal displacement, ethnic stereotyping and abductions by the security forces” the international community should pay serious attention to the brutalities against innocent Pashtuns and human rights violations in FATA. The mainstream media and anyone that belief in peaceful resistance should support this genuine moment and raise their voice against militant and terrorism which is a treat not only to Pashtun people but entire world.
By Huma Naseri, Kabul