Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 83, 6 May 2020

Pakistan: Arif Wazir, a PTM leader is killed attack; Manzoor Pashteen calls for Pashtun unity
Abigail Miriam Fernandez

In the news

The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Arif Wazir succumbed to the injuries on 2 May after unidentified gunmen targetted him outside his home in Wana. 

At his funeral, Manzoor Pashteen another PTM leader, condemned the murder and stated that his death is a massive loss, adding that a jirga should be held to instill a sense of unity among the Pashtuns.  Further, Mohsin Dawar, a party leader and member of Parliament, accused the "state-sponsored terrorists" of carrying out the attack.

Issues at large

The killing comes after the Police arrested Wazir in April for his alleged anti-Pakistani speech during his visit to Afghanistan. However, he was released on bail days before his killing. 

Being an outspoken and bold leader, he often criticised the Pakistan military for their war on terror for which he has been imprisoned several times. Is there State collusion in his killing? Since its formation in 2018, the PTM has been critical of the government's policies, the issue of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the tribal belt. They have organised frequent demonstrations, campaigns for civil rights for Pashtuns and against the Pakistan Army's heavy-handed operations in the regions.

Or, is he killed by the militants in the region? Earlier, Wazir's brother, father and uncle were also killed by the militants. 

In perspective

First, the preparators remain unidentified; so far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The State has to identify the killers.  

Second, the killing of Wazir and the death of exiled Baloch journalist Sajid Hussain which was reported at the same time, underline the struggle that the Pashtun and the Baloch people have fought continuously to secure their rights.

Third, the killing also took place during the week, when Pakistan's Human Rights Commission's annual report was published. The report is critical of contemporary human rights conditions within the country, and the killing should be a reminder of a larger threat.


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