Pak­istan au­thor­i­ties re­lease eth­nic Pash­tun law­maker

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Is­lam­abad, Pak­istan - Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties re­leased an eth­nic Pash­tun par­lia­men­tar­ian and civil rights leader hours af­ter de­tain­ing him dur­ing a peace­ful demon­stra­tion, a po­lice of­fi­cial said on Wed­nes­day, but more than 20 other demon­stra­tors held with him re­mained in cus­tody.

Mohsin Dawar, a sit­ting MP and a se­nior mem­ber of the Pash­tun Pro­tec­tion Move­ment (PTM), was de­tained along with 23 sup­port­ers on Tues­day when he was lead­ing a demon­stra­tion in Is­lam­abad against the ar­rest of Man­zoor Pash­teen, chief of the group.

Dawar, who was also de­tained for months last year for al­legedly in­cit­ing vi­o­lent clashes with se­cu­rity forces dur­ing an­other protest, was re­leased late on Tues­day, a po­lice spokesman said. But a fur­ther 23 PTM mem­bers have been charged with in­cite­ment against state in­sti­tu­tions in­clud­ing the pow­er­ful Pak­istan mil­i­tary, dis­turb­ing law and or­der, and hate speech.

“All 23 ... will be pre­sented be­fore a mag­is­trate today and will be sent to jail later,” Zia Ba­jwa, spokesman for the Is­lam­abad po­lice, said.

The PTM have pres­sured the mil­i­tary since 2018 with calls to end al­leged abuses by se­cu­rity forces tar­get­ing eth­nic Pash­tuns, in­clud­ing en­forced dis­ap­pear­ances and tar­geted killings, in the restive tribal ar­eas along the bor­der with Afghanista­n. The move­ment re­mains peace­ful, but has been no­table for its di­rect ver­bal at­tacks on the armed forces in a coun­try where such crit­i­cism is largely seen as a red line.

Pash­teen, the for­mer vet­eri­nary stu­dent turned thorn in the mil­i­tary’s side, was ar­rested on Mon­day in the north­west­ern city of Peshawar. He is fac­ing charges in­clud­ing sedi­tion, hate speech, in­cite­ment against the state, and crim­i­nal con­spir­acy.

PTM lead­ers have called on their sup­port­ers to stay calm af­ter Pash­teen's ar­rest.


Mohsin Dawar

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