Aaj English TV

‘This is about the tears shed by Pashtun mothers, sisters and children’

Thousands protest in Peshawar for peace, end to bloodshed in KP
Updated 05 Feb, 2023 12:01am
<p>People gather outside for peace protest outside the Peshawar Press Club on February 4, 2023. Photo via author</p>

People gather outside for peace protest outside the Peshawar Press Club on February 4, 2023. Photo via author

<p>People gather outside for peace protest outside the Peshawar Press Club on February 4, 2023. Photo via author</p>

People gather outside for peace protest outside the Peshawar Press Club on February 4, 2023. Photo via author

<p>People gather outside for peace protest outside the Peshawar Press Club on February 4, 2023. Photo via author</p>

People gather outside for peace protest outside the Peshawar Press Club on February 4, 2023. Photo via author

Thousands of men and women converged in a massive demonstration in Peshawar on Saturday to protest bloodshed, Pashtun lives as cannon fodder for the war of terrorism and the lack of accountability. Manzoor Pashteen, Mohsin Dawar and Mian Iftikhar Hussain were among the prominent speakers.

The demonstration was organised by a local youth organisation, Swat Ulasi Pasoon (People’s Uprising). It was held after a suicide bomber took 102 lives and wounded more than 200 people in a mosque situation supposedly in a highly fortified area in Peshawar. It was an attack that prompted the chief of army staff to say at the 255th Corps Commanders conference on Jan 31 that there would be “zero tolerance for any terrorist entity”. Condemnation poured in on the floor of the National Assembly as well, where Defence Minister Khwaja Asif asked how the Taliban were allowed to regroup.

Manzoor Pashteen of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement arrived to a roaring welcome. “We won’t spare them a drop of blood, not even a single tear. We will win back our land,” he shouted in his speech. “We will rid our land of terrorists. Pashtuns must come out everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you are from: Peshawar or Waziristan. We are Pashtuns and we are from Pukhtunkhwa. We will talk about our nation, our country. This issue concerns our country, our soil. The issue is about the bloodshed on this soil by terrorists. The blood of innocent Pashtuns.”

He went on to say, “This issue is about the tears shed by Pashtun mothers, sisters and children who are weeping to this date. We have not forgotten the day when a blast took place in Meena Bazar, Peshawar city. Streets laden with body parts of our women and children. We have not forgotten the day when they slaughtered our kids in Tirah, killed our kids in APS. The cries and wails of the people of Swat and Dir still echo in our ears. Their thirst for Pashtun blood hasn’t satiated yet. A few days ago in Police lines Peshawar they martyred more than 100 of our people. We salute the martyrs of Police Lines and we want to tell the families of the martyrs that you are not alone. Your grief is the grief of every Pashtun.”

Mohsin Dawar continued in the same vein:

“We stand with our people as they resist this new iteration of ‘Project Taliban’. We will not allow a new war to be imposed on our lands,” MNA Mohsin Dawar said in his speech.

“Today we vow and give a message that we would not give our land for war. We want to tell everyone that every survivor, young and old, is awake and they would give their lives to protect their homeland. This is the land of our forefathers for which our forefathers have sacrificed. We will continue to give this country, we will not let anyone ruin it like this. We are followers of Bacha Khan’s non-violence and following the footsteps of Bacha Khan, we will continue to make efforts to establish peace,” he told a charged crowd.

Swat Ulasi Pasoon is a youth organisation that came into being after the outlawed group Taliban started making their presence felt again in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Last year, the organisation led a peace march in many cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a single demand: peace.

The blast that rocked KP’s capital was a stark reminder of terrorists attack at the Army Public School in 2014. Nearly 150 people were killed, most of them schoolchildren, when heavily armed militants stormed into the school.

Video footage showed that participants gave a rousing welcome to Manzoor Pashteen of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) when he joined the protest.

Protestors demanded that a transparent investigation should be conducted into the suicide bombing in Peshawar mosque in order to bring criminals involved to justice. They announced that they would gather all political parties without discrimination and decide the future course of action.

Many parties from Pakistan’s political spectrum – including Awami National Party, National Democratic Movement, Qaumi Watan Party, Mazdoor Kisan Party, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, and PTM – and members of civil society joined the peace demonstration.

Among many party flags, a plain white flag was a common sight like in the past protests of the organisation.

‘We want peace’

“We do not want terrorism on our land, we want peace,” ANP’s Mian Iftikhar Hussain told charged protesters. Hussain lost his only son, Mian Rashid Hussain, in 2010 when the KP was the epicentre of terrorist attacks. But, his party has also been in the crosshairs of banned Tehreek-e-Taliban’s guns for their anti-terrorist stance.

KP has borne most of the brunt in the country’s war against terrorism, analysts say. The northwestern province experience a ripple effect when the war against Soviet supported Afghan government started in the 1980s and the United States’ war on terror began after 9/11.

Now, the province was again experiencing a similar situation since the arrival of the interim government in neighbouring Afghanistan as the banned TTP members, who helped their ideological twin in their war against US troops, reappeared in Pakistan.

ANP’s Hussain, still walking on the same path, said that they would not shy away from rendering sacrifices for peace. “The enemies of peace can never stop our way,” he added.

He was of the view that peace in Swat, Bajaur, Waziristan, and other areas returned due to public awareness. “The nation is united, the entire Pakhtunkhwa will end the bullying of the enemies of peace,” Hussain said.

There have been reports of extortion in the province over the last year when the government confirmed to have talks with the outlawed TTP. Doctors, elected representatives, and traders have received calls from militants sitting across the border. Some of them have even paid and started to migrate to safe places in Pakistan as compared to the ones in the province.

Pakistan has many times demanded of the interim Afghan government to not allow its soil become a “launch pad” for terrorist attacks against countries.

“Miscreants think that if they attack our homes, we will remain silent. Rising voices against unrest cannot be silenced by target killing. The Pakhtun nation has known the enemies of peace and they are longer prepared to tolerate the business of war on their own soil,” the ANP leader said.

He went on to add that the provincial police were being targeted frequently and described the suicide bombing in Police Lines area as a “collective attack” on the KP police.

The purpose of such attacks was to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation and to demoralise the police, according to ANP’s Hussain. But, he added that such attempts could not demoralize our men.

The KP police have a long history of rendering sacrifices. IG Moazzam Jah Ansari told Aaj News on Thursday that a list of 2,000 martyred policemen was stuck to the wall in his office.

The veteran politician suggested that a comprehensive investigation should be conducted into the explosion instead of political mudslinging, lamenting that the report of the APS attack has so far been not brought to the public.

“Until the perpetrators of these incidents and their facilitators are brought to justice, the blood of the [martyred] policemen will remain a debt,” he said and called for expediting the investigation.

Hussain wondered the 20-point agenda under the National Action Plan, made after the attack on the army-run school, was not implemented so far. “The only way for Pakhtuns to survive in the present situation is unity and consensus,” he said and reminded the participants that this unity gave led to the ouster of the British before partition.

‘At the receiving end’

Many participants told Aaj News that the region was always at the receiving end whenever there was any trouble. They added that they have rendered many scarifies, became homeless, and their houses were demolished in the past, however, this time they would not leave their house at any cost.

The government should completely eliminate the terrorists, they said as they hurled slogans for peace.

Manzoor Pashteen made a rousing speech, much of which cannot be reported here as he levelled allegations which cannot be repeated.

Section 144 imposed

Earlier in the day, Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code was imposed for a 10-day period in the Peshawar district due to “security concerns”.

“Gatherings of five or more people without prior approval were hereby banned and action would be taken against anyone found violating the restriction,” the order from Deputy Commissioner Shafi Ullah Khan said.

Action would be taken against violators of the rule under Section 188 (disobedience to order of a public servant) of the Pakistan Penal Code, it added.

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Peshawar Press Club



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Peshawar mosque

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