'We are against the oppressors': PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen tells thousands at Peshawar rally

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Monday April 9, 2018 Kabul (BNA) Pashtun Tahafuz Movement's (PTM) grand gathering in Peshawar kicked off on Sunday afternoon with the speakers demanding the release of missing persons as well as provision of basic human rights to the Pakhtun community in Pakistan. People numbering in thousands, from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), participated in the gathering at Pishtakhra Chowk near Ring Road and intermittently chanted the slogan da sang azadi da (what kind of freedom is this) their movement's rallying cry. The families of missing persons arrived at the gathering holding pictures of their loved ones, whose whereabouts remain unknown. The protesters were largely mobilised through social media, as well as pamphlets and PTM workers creating an awareness about the movement among local communities. It is pertinent to mention that mainstream TV channels across the country gave little to no airtime to the Sunday protest. "We are only against the oppressors," PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen told a charged audience as he took the stage. "We are only the 'agents' of our nation," he said, addressing allegations that the movement is being backed by foreign agencies. "What has happened so far for the missing persons?" he asked. "The mothers and elders whose beloveds are missing should not be coerced." Family members of a missing person hold poster demanding his recovery. Photo by Author "In Karachi, money is taken in return for bodies. Even Genghis Khan did not take money after killing people," Pashteen said. "After Rao Anwar (the ex-SSP Malir accused of the extrajudicial murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud), it is now the turn of Ehsanullah Ehsan (former TTP leader)," he said, demanding that the erstwhile TTP spokesperson should be brought to the courts. "After Ehsanullah, we will bring [former president] Musharraf to the courts," he added. He also spoke about how businesses in Fata have been affected by the ensuing violence. "Fruit from Wana and Swat is being sold in Lahore instead of Peshawar." "In Waziristan, the 'good Taliban' are threatening the people," he said. Pashteen demanded that the practice of imposing curfews in Fata should come to an end, and that schools, hospitals under occupation should return to their usual course of action. "We will go to every village until our demands are met," Pashteen announced, adding that more jalsas will be held in Karachi, Hyderabad, Loralai and Bannu, followed by a sit-in in Islamabad. He also announced that a gathering named "Jalsa Raddul Fasaad" will be held on April 22 in Lahore, whereas another one in Swat on April 29 will be called "Raah-e-Raast". Thousands gather to demand basic human rights at PTM jalsa in Peshawar. Photo by Author The Islamabad sit-in would end only after an international guarantee, Pashteen told the audience. He also said that a rally will be taken to Waziristan after Ramazan. "We have to give the coming generations a bright future," he concluded.
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