With Assassination of Pashtun Leader, Ethnic Tension in Pakistan Simmers

In yet another death of Pashtun leaders in Pakistan, Arif Wazir of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) died in Islamabad a day after he was attacked by unidentified assailants outside his home, Dawn reported.

PTM member Aurang Zeb Khan alleged that the assailants were sponsored by the Pakistani military, reported ANI. Ever since its formation as Mahsud Tahaffuz in 2014, PTM has been targeted by the Pakistani military and labelled as ‘anti-national’. People associated with PTM have been charged under the colonial-era sedition law in the past.

PTM is a social movement for human rights protection of the Pashtun ethnic group based in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. PTM has agitated for an end of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, and unlawful detention.

In a tweet, human rights group Amnesty International said “The Pakistani authorities must carry out an independent and effective investigation into yesterday’s attack in South Waziristan on Arif Wazir, a member of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement. The suspected perpetrators must be held accountable.”

In a separate incident reported by ANI, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder and leader Altaf Husain said that his life is in great danger. He said this while addressing the leaders of oversea units of MQM in a telephonic address. Husain has been living in the United Kingdom since 1992 weeks before the Pakistani government sent the military to crackdown on MQM.

MQM is a party supported mainly by Muhajirs (migrants), people who migrated to Pakistan from India due to the partition of the colonial Indian territory in 1947. MQM had been long accused of orchestrating violence, especially in Karachi which became a hub of migrants from North India.

Since its formation in 1947, Pakistan has seen ethnic conflict dominating much of its political discourse. The ethnic minorities have alleged that Punjabis have dominated the establishment subsequently discriminating against the ethnic minorities such as Pashtuns, Balochs, Muhajirs, and formerly Bengalis. The ethnic-cum-linguistic conflict led to the partition of the country in 1971 resulting in the creation of Bangladesh.

Image Credit: Al Jazeera