Pashtun Tahaffuz [Protection] Movement (PTM) showed a massive power by attracting a mammoth of people to their first ever grand protest in Peshawar, Pakistan. The protest was attended by around one million people from across Pakistan in particular people from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). People from Quetta, Islamabad, Lahore, and Multan also participated in the protests.
The protest was held at Pishtakhra Chowk near Ring Road and intermittently chanted the slogans “Da Sanga Azadi da” (what kind of freedom is this) and “Ye jo dahshatgardi hain, Iss ke peechy wardi hain” (Army is behind this current wave of terrorism).
The protest also attracted the grieved families of the missing persons who were holding photos of their loved ones, whose fate remains unclear. The speakers demanded the immediate release of the abducted persons by the military intelligence and by the same token putting an end to the maltreatment and profiling of Pashtuns across Pakistan.
While addressing the crowd, PTM leader Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen said that “We are against the oppressors”. Addressing specifically to the promises of the state in the aftermath of Islamabad sit-in Manzoor told “what happened to the missing persons? He furthered that the “families of the beloved ones shouldn’t be forced”. “Within two hours, we received a list of around 2,000 missing people.
The families and relatives of the missing persons are here at the protest to tell the state institutions about their loved ones,” said Manzoor Pashteen, the head of PTM, addressing specifically the old women holding pictures of their missing sons. Heart-wrenching scenes were also witnessed during the protest when the mothers, sisters, and children of the missing persons were crying while holding the images of their loved ones.
Manzoor Pashteen also stated that PTM will go to every corner of the country until our demands are met. In his inclusive speech, Manzoor also touched upon the way Pashtuns business and financial resources were hurt during the past two decades of war. “Fruits from Wana and Swat are being sold in Lahore instead of Pashteen” said Manzoor.
On the very same day, Pashtuns across the globe also held similar protests to show solidarity with PTM. Pashtuns in Germany, USA, United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, Australia, New Zeeland, and Ukraine also protested against the Pakistan state oppressive policies toward Pashtuns.
Though the mainstream media of Pakistani continued its complete blackout of the PTM protest, however, protestors and organizers not only mobilized all people through social media but also showed the protest live through their social media account.
On the other hand, the large participation of the people is a great manifestation of the fact that the people of the Pashtun belt are fed up with the current state policies toward them.