Photo Credit: Minds of the Movement
Since the US government launched the war on terror in 2001, Pakistan’s Pashtun population has been caught up in the crossfire between Taliban and state security forces. As a regional population of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, the Pashtun have been an easy target for harassment and scapegoating, and have suffered from years of disappearances, extra-judicial killings, and other forms of violent repression at the hands of both the Taliban and Pakistani security forces.
But through nonviolent collective action that eventually became known as the Pashtun Protection Movement (also the “Pashtun Tahafuz Movement”, or PTM), the Pashtun have recently seen some of their demands met and at least some of their suffering eased. And still, their struggle continues.
The trigger for mobilizing came in January this year, when police killed a young Pashtun man of 27, who was arrested on unfounded allegations of involvement with terrorist groups. This sparked months of protests around the country, including notably a 10-day march-turned-sit-in (the “Long March”) in the capital of Islamabad in February. Activists sang the Pashtun Anthem, which decries injustices that the Pashtun have long suffered: What will we do with this freedom when our children are killed?
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