Pashtuns protest at UNHRC against rights violations in Pakistan
Geneva: Members of the civil rights movement, Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) on Wednesday staged a protest outside the UN headquarters in Geneva raising concerns over gross human rights violations committed by the Pakistan Army on innocent Pashtuns.
The Pashtun activists demanded the immediate and unconditional release of PTM leader Ali Wazir, a sitting Member of Pakistan's National Assembly, who was detained last December for allegedly making anti-state comments.
They also demanded the release of more than 40 Pashtun activists, who have been languishing in jails over false charges.
The activists urged the United Nations to take notice of the enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and arbitrary detentions of Pashtuns in Pakistan.
Fazal-ur Rehman Afridi, an activist of PTM, France said in his address, "Pakistani authorities have put restrictions on Manzoor Pashteen (PTM leader) to travel abroad and raise voice against atrocities on Pashtuns. They even blocked his national identity card to stop running any sort of movement in Pakistan".
He added, "Pakistan Army has been treating the country's constitution as like a toy. Article 15 of the constitution provides you freedom of movement as you can freely travel within the country and do any protest. But, whenever you raise a voice against fascist Pakistan Army for committing extra-judicial killings and abductions, they muzzle the voice".
The Pashtuns were joined by activists from Balochistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir, who condemned brutalities by the Pakistan army.
Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, exiled Chairman of United Kashmir People's National Party said, "Thousands of people have become victims of enforced disappearances. Even prominent leaders of PTM are languishing in jails. You can witness such a double-standard in Pakistan, that in other places, production orders are issued for lawmakers for Assembly sessions. But PTM leaders remain in jail".
Members of the Pashtun ethnic minority have long blamed that they have been targets of military operations, ethnic stereotyping, enforced disappearances and fake encounters by Pakistani security forces.