In the archived socio-politico chronicles of every evolving society there are turning points that re-inscribe identities of vulnerable communities. The organic Pashtun movement, encompassing the Pashtun march and the FATA-KP merger, is one of such monumental instances of transformation of political identity of a marginalized nationality. A grassroots movement, devoid of the routine prescription of party cronyism or institutional politicism, the procession of the Pashtun community amalgamated in mourning and protested the oppression of the Pashtun community in the wake of Naqeeb Ullahs extrajudicial murder.
Pashtuns have borne the brunt of military and police operations in Waziristan, Swat, FATA and Karachi, devastated by a war that pits Afghan and Pakistan’s’ drawn out trope of terrorism. Promised reforms for FATA or its merger in KP have yet to materialise, where the existing colonial structure in the region shackles the indigenous community to bureaucratic elites allied with war lords. The protracted presence of the military and the Zar-e-arab operation has left them bereft of citienship and identity, subjected to raids and curfews where locals suffer encumbered lives, where they are routinely policed, racially profiled and suffer abduction of family members by those who misuse the law to suit dominant power structures.
What makes this particular uprising so palpable is its recognition and resonance through not just Pashtun communities here and across the border but also non-pashtun communities that have been ravaged by ethnic and sectarian discrimination.
The movement has contributed to considerable gains for the Pashtun people where parliament finally extended jurisdiction of the superior courts to FATA and the army chief also retracted Watan card, also known as the Waziristan visa, to enter Waziristan. The Pakhtun Long March has also seen some success in recovering missing persons as demanded by the protesters. Empowered by social media many other Pakhtuns have also mobilised in peaceful remonstrations in Swat, Khyber Agency, and Bajaur Agency against mistreatment at checkposts, curfews and raids on locals’ houses, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings.
This period marks a transmutative instance where the state becomes cognizant of racially subversive elements in the political matrix and unequivocally castigates all those involved in racial profiling. According the Pashtun community their fundamental rights and freedom, with an eye to reconfigure the Afghan policy in the region would be the first step to amending the decrepitude in the tribal areas and from further estranging another nationality under the state’s wing.