Pashtun borderlands are once again in tumult, this time it is a Rights movement led by a group of young men with disparate backgrounds under the banner of PTM or Pashtun Tahafuzz Movement.
Since, its inception the movement has garnered great attention by Global media and Liberal Intelligentsia of Pakistan. The aims and objectives of this movement and its steady growth has been well documented on Social, Print and electronic media. In its essence, it started off as a movement by young people displaced from their homes in Erstwhile Tribal lands due to conflict between the Militant groups and State Military of Pakistan. Its main grievances were the excesses committed by State operatives in FATA, but soon it started developing a mass following in tribal hinterlands and attracted media’s eye.
The tense cat and mouse game between State’s various organs and PTM has been continuing to this day, with no significant progress on any of the core issues on which the main Movement was founded on. If we trace the humble roots of this movement to its current form, we observe a distinct metamorphosis in the whole outlook of its movement. This change can be accounted for by two main factors, The ethnic Nationalist political groups’ tacit support and complete co-option of this movement by Liberal intelligentsia on social media . Both, these factors are distinctly secular and since the beginning of this movement have sought to cleanse it of all religious elements. They always seek to portray it as complete anti thesis of Religious political mass movements. The liberal myth of some unholy nexus between Religious political movements and state policies , are time and again hammered into the younger audience on social media. Liberals often paint a new young Pashtun , who is liberal and irrelegious with nationalism as his philosophy of life, the problem with this rosy picture is its factual inaccuracy .
The biggest contradiction which is often pointed out by social media users and general public is the avid support and propaganda these same self styled “humanists” provided in favour of military operations in Tribal regions that actually compounded the death and destruction in Tribal areas and eventual displacement of Pashtun tribes from their homes. This war-mongering continued right up to 2014-15.
The question that arises before us, is why PTM was so easily subsumed into a liberal narrative of our elite ruling class? ( There is no doubt that liberal secularists had the driving seat in this country, just like other Muslim Nation States, with Kemalism the unoffical credo of many rulers of Pakistan)
In our opinion it might have something to do with its Rights based setup that neatly fits into a capitalist civil society structure, bereft of any mention of the wider conflict or even geo-politics of the region. If the liberal intelligentsia had their way with it, they would turn it into a larger Malala Phenomenon, i.e. a meaningless play thing of capitalist global worldview meant to parrot out inane platitudes that lack any meaning or substance. The only factor that keeps this mass movement afloat are the genuine grievances of the Tribal pashtuns , who have nowhere to go for any relief from the misery of indefinite war. This indefinite war has wilted and decomposed whole swathes of communities living at the edges of this region.
Today, sadly this genuine grief is being packaged and weaponised by liberal secularists to gain more foot hold in the masses, while it is demonised by state organs that ultimately leads to the same result i.e. heightened xenophobia against Pashtuns and further prolongation of military conflict in this region.
What will this new Pashtun equation ultimately lead to ? Only time will tell what further miseries await the weary souls of the mountain. Meanwhile , here at Green Crescent, we would like to delve deeper into this debate with our audience. What do you think of Tahafuz Movement? Is it truly a divide between Liberals and State? Or the actual Chasm lies almost hidden and wilfully suppressed? What is to be done, indeed?