The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government wants to address concerns of Pashtuns. For this purpose, it has sent an invitation to the leadership of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) to hold a jirga. The government wants to solve all the concerns of the Pashtun community within the limits of the constitution. That is great but this is what the leadership of PTM has been arguing for a long time and what the government initially was reluctant to acknowledge.

The reason for the government’s reluctance was probably an attachment to the status quo that the PTM has challenged. What is this status quo that the state, till recently was so keen on sticking to? The status quo is the absence of the rule of law. As a result, the political stability of the country has become extremely weak.

Nevertheless, it is encouraging that the state has realised the need for addressing the concerns of PTM leadership. If the parties to the jirga reach a consensus on the mechanism of addressing the concerns of the Pashtun community, it will be a step forward in the right direction.

Furthermore, the government’s move to constitute an advisory committee is a prudent move. The jirga according to the official statement will take place on 26th March. While the agenda of the jirga is addressing all outstanding social, political, administrative and development issues through talks, however, the primary point of contention will be the issue of human rights. “Violations of human rights” is the issue that PTM gains political currency and mileage from. And it is something that the government so far has remained avoided to discuss at all with the leadership of PTM.

The sooner the government acknowledges state accesses in this regard and rectifies the situation, the better it will be for the political stability of the country. It is essential for the centre to also play a constructive role in the present political crisis. What the state probably does not take into account at present is the fact that a significant part of the western side of the country is not happy with the present form of governance.

Many are demanding a new social contract where no one can exploit their economic, social and political rights. It is the need of the hour that the state shows flexibility and holds genuine engagement with the leadership of PTM before the divide becomes so great that it becomes impossible to overcome it.