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Pak authorities use sewage water, goats to disrupt Pashtun rally

Activists were particularly upset that Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and Khadim Hussain Rizvi of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik, another extremist organisation, were allowed to hold rallies in Lahore without any hindrance.

world Updated: Apr 23, 2018 07:45 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Lahore,goat,Mochi Gate
Pakistani members of the Pashtun Protection Movement (PTM) and student activists gather before the start of demonstration in Lahore on April 22, 2018. Pakistani Pashtun activists have vowed to hold a banned demonstration in the eastern city of Lahore April 22 after after authorities refused to issue a permit for the rally, just hours after officials cracked down on the group. / AFP PHOTO / ARIF ALI(AFP)

Leaders of a Pashtun movement vowed to keep up with their struggle after Pakistani authorities cancelled permission for their rally in Lahore on Sunday and used sewage water and entrails of goats to disrupt it.

The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) is fighting for restoration of human rights in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as accountability for the Pakistan Army's actions in the tribal areas.

The provincial Punjab administration refused to grant permission for the rally at Lahore’s Mochi Gate. To make sure no rally was held, workers of the sanitation department flooded the ground with sewage water. Entrails of goats and other animals were also thrown about at the ground by government workers to create a pungent smell, independent observers said.

The PTM’s request for holding the rally was rejected due to “prevailing security circumstances”, an official said.

Ali Wazir, a member of PTM, in a statement had appealed the people of Lahore to gather at Mochi Gate to learn about the ordeal Pashtuns were going through in war-hit areas.

“We want to give details that don’t reach you due to media censorship,” a PTM member said. Various civil rights groups, including Lahore Left Front, Joint Action Committee and Women Action Forum, had announced support for the PTM event.

“We have informed the police that come what may, we will hold the rally at Mochi Gate," a member of Left Front told local media.

He said the PTM had twice requested Lahore administration for permission but they denied. “We have told them that we won’t accept their undemocratic ban, which is a violation of right of association.”

Activists were particularly upset that Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed of the Jamaat ud Dawa and Khadim Hussain Rizvi of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik, another extremist organisation, were allowed to hold rallies in Lahore without any hindrance.

Mosharraf Zaidi, a political analyst, commented on Twitter: “Khadim Rizvi coddled by the Pakistani elite - civilian and military. Manzoor Pashteer (of PTM) demonised and denied NOC by the same elite. One spits at the constitution, The other demands constitutional raj. Why the dissonance?”

The five demands made by the PTM include the repeal of the laws under which the Federally Administered Tribal Areas are governed and the integration of FATA into Pakistan.

One such law, the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation, gives unlimited powers to the law enforcement agencies and no legal protection or recourse to the people who live in that area.

The PTM has also touched a raw nerve by criticising the military operation in their area, particularly in Waziristan.

Officials have conceded that in the war against terror, more than 50,000 civilians have been killed in militant attacks and military offensives in the region.

More than 6 million were displaced in dozens of military operations as hundreds of thousands of families lost their businesses and livelihoods. The PTM insists that the bulk of these casualties were in FATA. They say the authorities are yet to clear land mines planted at the time of the fight against militants.

The PTM is also protesting the imposition of curfews and the arbitrary measures imposed by the army during its operations there as this bring untold hardship on the people of the area.

They have also demanded that the victims of forced disappearances, many of whom they suspect are in military custody, be presented before the courts.

The PTM has also criticised the military's role of siding with one militant group against another. The movement also insists that militants have not been wiped out of the areas as the army chief claims.