IRELAND (DUBLIN): On Saturday 6th February 2016 a group of Pukhtun people gathered to protest in front of the Pakistan embassy in Dublin, Ireland. The event was organized by Angelina Merisi (an Irish citizen and PhD scholar at University College Cork), and Zaib Khan Esapzai who hails from the Swat region of Pakhtunkhwa and is the chief coordinator of Afghan Pukhtun Mili Jarga. The purpose of the demonstration was to express our grievances and protest against the unrelenting terrorist attacks in Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Afghanistan and to condemn what we consider to be the genocide of Afghan/Pukhtun people. Although it turned out to be a small gathering of ten people, the protesters nonetheless made their grievances known and moreover, decided to continue in future missions to raise awareness of Pukhtun matters among the broader Irish public. This author furthermore received confirmation from Sinn Fein foreign minister, Eric Scanlon, that he will raise awareness of our campaign in Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) in the near future.
The opening protest speech was delivered by this author where concerns were raised in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Afghan/Pukhtun lands. I stated that we stand in solidarity with the families of those Pukhtuns and Afghans who lost their lives in terrorist attacks, the most recent at Bacha Khan University, Charsadda. I furthermore condemned the continuous ruthless systematic slaughter of innocent Pukhtun civilians along with terrorist attacks on schools and universities, despite the government and army’s promises of eradicating terrorism. The recent attack on 20th January, where 21 students and staff were mercilessly gunned down at a university in Pakhtunkhwa, highlights the fact that terrorism is alive and thriving in Pakistan I asserted. The date of the attack on BKU was significant, it being the anniversary of the death of the great Pukhtun leader and advocate for peace and non-violence, Bacha Khan Baba. Just over a year ago 144 people were gunned down in a school in Peshawar, the majority were children. Attacks on schools on the soil of Afghans is a regular occurrence both in Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Afghanistan without exaggeration.
I furthermore drew attention to the 2014 Zarb-e-Azb offensive in Waziristan and Khyber agency. I stated that Pukhtuns/Afghans were reassured with Pakistan government/army claims of eradicating terrorists from the FATA, and were hopeful of their sincerity for once, that they would do what they had claimed. Before the offensive even begun, I pointed out that most of the militants had fled the area, and as usual, it was the civilians who paid the price for this endeavour. Tens of thousands of men, women and children were banished from their homes, evicted from their lands and forced in to IDP camps, tents, and on the side of the roads, where they were treated like second class citizens. To us Europeans, this is an appalling humanitarian crime. Moreover, Pukhtuns inform us that the Pakistan media reported that Punjab province refused entry to desperate IDPs. I thus asked the question whether the people of FATA are considered citizens of the Pakistan state? I stated the treatment of these people is unacceptable and shameful. Furthermore, when the people were repatriated, they faced demolition of their homes, poverty, hunger, and still subject to human rights violations under the draconian law system, the Frontier Crimes Regulations, enforced in FATA since 1901 by the British colonisers. I stated that Pukhtun people are denied education and opportunity to prosper. Hundreds of thousands live in poverty without jobs or a future and children are forced to stay out of school. The very fabric of Pukhtun culture and the ethnic Pukhtun population is under threat of becoming extinct due to terrorism.
In his speech, Zaib Khan Esapzai stated it is clear, by the Pakistan State’s own admission, that terrorist organisations have been created and nurtured in Pakistan since the 1970‘s with a view to establish strategic advantage against neighbouring states including Afghanistan. He stated that it is clear that these groups are responsible for the systematic genocide of Pukhtuns. The identity of the 3,500 terrorists the Pakistan army claim to have wiped out during the recent offensive has never been made public. To be credible in this claim, Dr. Esapzai stated the Pakistan army/Government need to do more to convince Pukhtuns/Afghans and the entire community. The media itself has accused the establishment of preventing journalists from reporting the truth therefore Pukhtuns are justified in not believing media reports or claims. Furthermore, media openly accuses the establishment of controlling them and of systematically wiping out and silencing any voice of dissent or journalists attempting to report certain truths and realities. Dr. Esapzai stated that it is believed by Afghans/Pukhtuns at home and among the broader diaspora, that all terrorist activities in Afghanistan and Pukhtunkhwa are carried out by the Pakistan intelligence agency (ISI) and Punjab. He stated it is the same Punjab establishment’s insecurity surrounding the Durand Line which has been the root cause of many problems as the geographical border has never been accepted by Afghanistan. He furthermore asserted that the removal of the Durand line/border would be a solution and prerequisite to Peace on Afghan soil.
In the concluding protest speech we unanimously agreed that Pukhtun/Afghan people are peace loving people and that Pukhtuns/Afghans want peace in their land, education for their children and like all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We furthermore reiterated that Pukhtuns/Afghans want this genocide to stop and the perpetrators brought to justice, to end terrorism and marginalisation of Pukhtuns.
Miss Angelina hails from Ireland. She is part of the Pashtuns Times News Network. She is a PhD scholar at the University College Cork, Ireland. Her current research is focused on Islam and Pashtun male migrants in Ireland, masculinity and honour concepts. Angelina is a writer and poet. She can be reached at
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