Manzoor Pashteen: The youth who challenged the Pakistani army
The 27-year-old Pashtun activist is noted for being one of the few persons who have dared to point a finger at the Pakistani army for violating the humans rights of ethnic minorities
January 29, 2020 / 09:42 PM IST
Pakistan-based human rights activist Manzoor Pashteen (Image: Twitter/@AftabaSherpao)
Pakistani human rights activist Manzoor Pashteen, who was arrested by the Pakistani army on January 27, has been crusading to guarantee basic rights to the Pashtun ethnic minority community.
He was arrested on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy for raising slogans against the government. According to a BBC report, a fellow protest leader has claimed that Pashteen was imprisoned simply for raising his voice against an army, that is not used to criticism. His other fault could be inspiring thousands of subjugated minorities to rally for their fair share of human rights.
Notably, Pashtuns are the largest ethnic minority in Pakistan, comprising 15 percent of their population.
Coming from a humble background, the 27-year-old charismatic youth grew up to become the leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement. Wearing his signature Pakhtun cap or Mazari, he has been the flag-bearer of the Pashtun people's unrest in Pakistan against the military violence that started back in the early 2000s.
Pashteen has been under the radar of the Pakistani army for a long time for routinely pointing to human rights abuses perpetrated on the Pashtun community by the forces. Dedicated to exposing the plight of the Pashtuns before the global community, the young leader is a vehement critic of the atrocities the ethnic minority community is frequently subjected to, including forced disappearances.
This is not even the first time he has been taken to task by the authorities. In 2017, he and his father both were allegedly assaulted in custody on charges of degrading the image of the Pakistani army and drowning their morale.
The social movement, he now chairs, was started in the year 2014 when he was but a student of veterinary science, to remove landmines from Waziristan, which is a part of the tribal belt along the Afghanistan border.
Its primary demand has been for the Pakistani government to set up a judicial enquiry to investigate the extra-judicial killing of Pashtuns. The movement also sought a ban on the racial profiling of the Pashtun people in Pakistan.