Naseemullah famous as Naqeebullah Mehsud was killed in an alleged fake police encounter in Karachi on 13 January 2018. As per the news reports an inquiry team of senior police officers probing the alleged extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud has found that Naqeebullah was killed in a “fake encounter” which was “staged” by SSP Malir Rao Anwar. Family and the tribe of Naqeebullah have since then been demanding legal action against the culprits led by Rao Anwar. Later, from 2 February onwards the protesters gathered in Islamabad and demanded for justice. From 6 February onwards the campaign became seriously sinister, playing on the Pashtun card.

In December 2017, the former U.S secretary of state Rex Tillerson warned Pakistan while addressing a Think Tank that Pakistan could lose control of its territory if it does not sever ties with the Haqqanis and other terrorists.

Pashtun population especially those residing in FATA and KPK have been affected by the war on terror. Major part of FATA and Malakand agency population was displaced from their homes for at least once. Displacement has left scars on their minds and hearts of almost entire population; however the proud Pushtuns did it for Pakistan and their future generations, something unprecedented in the history of nations.

Pakistan Army has been doing its bit to bring positive change in FATA and affected areas through development projects and other confidence building measures. However, Army cannot help the local population on its own, because of sneak attacks by terrorists and security concerns; especially when National Action Plan has been technically shelved.

In absence of the governance and development infrastructure there was an immediate requirement of deciding the political fate of the FATA. However, the decision is still pending due to political gimmickry, mostly led by PMAP of Mehmud Khan Achakzai and JUI(F). The delay may have been intentionally engineered and needs to be viewed in light of the new developments.

From 2 February to 11 February the protest of All Pakhtun Qauomi Jirga was staged in Islamabad. Purpose of the Jirga was to seek justice for Naqeebullah Mehsud but was exploited in the name of Pashtun Nationalism especially by ANP leadership spearheaded by Bushra Gohar and Afrasiab Khattak. Slogans like, “Tha snaga Azadi Da” i.e which sort of Freedom is this and “Stop Pashtun Genocide” were hurled in the Jirga.

Idea of Aman Lashkars in FATA has worked for peace restoration, however, at present these Aman Jirgas are being touted as, “Good Taliban” prepared by the Army and intelligence agencies. Killing of a Wazir tribesman, Idrees Wazir by an Aman Lashkar’s Mehsud was exploited to sensitize people against Aman Lashkars and thereby also against Army. Slogans like “Good Taliban Murda baad” were raised and interviews of the people voicing against Army were tweeted. These news were covered through interviews on Mashaal Radio and Voice of America (Diva).

Issue of Mashaal Khan murder case, (Mardan), minor Asma murder case (Mardan) and that of medical college student Asma (Kohat) are also being tilted and used in similar tone. Even after the award of the punishment to Mashaal’s murderers, issue is being exploited.

Pashtun rising is being termed as “Pashtun Spring” and is being used as tool of inciting Anti Army/FC sentiments. Tweet about Pashtun Long March from near Torkham shows people chanting slogans against FC’s presence. Similarly, Mehmud Khan Achakzai openly alleged prime intelligence agency to be behind recent Balochistan Government debacle. His speech is available on Twitter and the slogans like, “Yeh jo Dehshat Gardi hay- iss kay peechay Wardi hay” can be clearly heard in the background of the speech. Pir Sialvi issue is also being exploited to create a perception that intelligence agencies were behind their rallies, protests and demonstrations.

Afghan ethnic factor and support also speaks behind these protests. On all these issues, Federal Government and central leadership is being asked to play a role and uncover the hands behind the so called Pashtun exploitation and genocide as well as Khatm-e-Nabowat related issues.

In the prevailing circumstances Pashtun sub-nationalist sensationalism can hurt the national cause, as Pashtun areas are already prone to sub-nationalism. Issue may get further fillip if not addressed immediately.

Within Pakistan, this campaign was supported by some media house in the name of Human rights and freedom of speech, unfortunately these media houses pay only lip service to the Indian atrocities in Occupied Kashmir, despite the fact that there is no comparison of Kashmir and FATA.

Some questions for the activists of the so called Pushtun long march:

The peace and stability in FATA and Baluchistan has been brought through a hard fought war by Pak Army ,was it possible for #Pushtunlongmarch to take effect without peace in                the far flung areas of FATA and Baluchistan

Why mainstreaming of Tehrik-e-Taliban Afghanistan and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami in Afghanistan is Kosher, if done by Ashraf Ghani, but haram when attempted by Pakistan?

Who is responsible for failure of NAP?

The linkage of Naqeebullah Mehsud’s death with Pushtunlongmarch is mind      boggling, how come both are connected, who is pulling the strings of this movement. Who are the Champions of Pushtun cause? Achakzai and ANP? What contributions have they made to FATA, KPK or Baluchistan other than political gimmickry and disempowerment of the masses.

Isn’t CPEC the actual pain in the neck of west and India? And why Pushtun long march is targeting the objectives of CPEC?

The reality is, “Yeh Jo Dehshat Gardi hai,Uski Dushman Wardi hai; for God’s sake don’t play in the hands of chaos generators at a time when peace and stability is returning to Pakistan and the CPEC is opening new vistas of development in KPK and Baluchistan.


The author is a freelance journalist.