Written by admin on Monday, March 12th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pashtun resistance
SOURCE: Daily Times
Monday, March 12, 2018

The young Pashtuns are marching again. This time they are in Balochistan.

Mainstream media has once again failed them. Whether the media blackout is a result of express advice by the state or a mode of self-censorship or linked to corporate imperatives, it is a matter of grave concern. A generation of young, displaced and war-torn Pashtuns has grown up in contemporary Pakistan, which rightly feels marginalised. The young men and women of federally administered tribal areas are far better informed and networked than their predecessors. They are outraged at the fact that state treats them as second-class citizens. There have been many plans for FATA reform, proposals on mainstreaming and integration and nothing much has happened. Nor is it likely to until Pakistan’s security is viewed through the prism of Afghanistan and by extension the fear of Indian influence on the western borders.

Those in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are also aware of the everyday insecurity that has affected thousands of families. In fact KP has suffered the most in the war on terror. The internally displaced Pashtuns have had to face the stereotyping, economic hardship and brutal state violence as was demonstrated in the case of Naqeebullah Mehsud – the young man who was killed in a police encounter by an illegally empowered yet rogue police unit in Karachi. Are these not issues of public interest? Are the demands of young Pakistanis not worth the airtime? Inordinate coverage has been given to mainstream power players especially Imran Khan in recent years. The 2014 and 2016 dharnas were brought to people’s living rooms. How is the issue of alleged corruption by Sharifs more important than the embedded corruption in FATA and denial of rights to a sizeable part of country’s population?

The young Pashtuns have taken the path of non-violent and peaceful resistance. It is reflective of democratization that has been underway for the past one decade. This should be acknowledged and appreciated. The colonial constructions of the Pashtun as the ‘warrior’ and ‘violent’ type have been reinforced for decades after independence; and have also been conveniently employed to prop up militias aimed at Afghanistan.Young Pashtuns are demolishing all these stereotypes by exercising their rights under the constitution.

Our colleagues in electronic media, and to some extent the print media, need to revise their policy. The state is likely to be offended for the ethos of Pashtun resistance is a direct challenge to the decades-old security policy that has treated the FATA badlands and KP as instruments of the war theatre in Afghanistan. Pakistanis have a right to ask their state why young men go ‘missing’ in the twenty-first century. And calling for fair and rule-based law enforcement is also not a crime under the law.

Therefore, decision makers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi cannot term the Pashtun movement as anti-state. It is all about constitutionalism and enforcement of fundamental rights. Our state has to come to terms with a changed Pakistan with a youth bulge, new media and information revolution. Unlike the past, information and ideas cannot be controlled with the rise of digital media. The same holds true for the corporate mainstream media that are only undermining their credibility by ignoring the young and angry Pashtuns.


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