Government, PTM moving toward 'short-term arrangement,' experts say

In this file photo, Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leaders Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir call on Prime Minister Imran Khan at the premier's office in Islamabad on Nov. 7, 2018. (PID)
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Updated 11 July 2020

Government, PTM moving toward 'short-term arrangement,' experts say

  • The group’s leaders were booked in May last year for allegedly attacking a military checkpoint in North Waziristan
  • Analysts say PTM can emerge as a political force in tribal region if it shuns policy of confrontation with state institutions

ISLAMABAD: Two lawmakers from the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) are going to approach the Peshawar High Court next week to have a criminal case against them quashed, following recent moves by the government which experts say indicate attempts at a “short-term arrangement” to end confrontation with PTM.
Last month, Defense Minister Pervaiz Khattak invited PTM to discuss “all the contentious issues” for the sake of the development of Pashtun-dominated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.A few weeks earlier, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa administration requested an antiterrorism court to withdraw the case it filed against PTM leaders Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir in May last year.
“The government has the authority to withdraw the case, after which the accused will be considered exonerated in the case,” Abdul Latif Afridi, senior lawyer representing the two members of the National Assembly, told Arab News on Saturday.
Afridi confirmed that the provincial government requested the case withdrawal in March, but the antiterrorism court in Abbottabad had yet to decide on it. In the case, Dawar and Wazir were accused of an attack at a military checkpoint at Kharqamar in North Waziristan, in which at least 13 people were killed and multiple injured.
“This is like a hanging sword to my clients … I’ve discussed the development with my clients, and we’ll be moving Peshawar High Court next week to get this case quashed,” he said, adding that the court was legally bound to exonerate his clients after the government’s application.
The PTM emerged as a rights movement for the country’s Pashtun population in February 2018. Its leaders and supporters have faced numerous police reports and court cases for allegedly inciting people against the state institutions including the armed forces.
Political analysts are of the view that the recent developments indicate that the government and PTM leaders are moving toward a “short-term arrangement” to put an end to confrontation and address concerns of Pashtuns.
“The PTM is a genuine political movement led and supported by the youth, therefore it can’t be suppressed through state force or violence,” Qamar Cheema, political and security analyst, told Arab News.
He said that Pashtun nationalism had always been a problem for the state for its unique geographical location and closeness with the troubled Afghanistan
“The PTM should focus on getting genuine grievances of the Pashtuns addressed by shunning confrontation with the state,” he said, “The group could emerge as a political force in the region, provided it broadens its canvass.”


Pakistan’s new 'political map' projects decades-old position on Kashmir, experts say

Updated 41 min 52 sec ago

Pakistan’s new 'political map' projects decades-old position on Kashmir, experts say

  • Maps are not without significance in international law and global litigation over territorial disputes, top legal expert says
  • Opposition urges government to circulate map among all embassies and international forums to convey official position on disputed territory

ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan has exercised its executive authority by formally laying claim to the disputed Himalayan territory of Jammu and Kashmir in a new political map, experts said on Wednesday, adding that the move was in line with the country’s decades-old position on Kashmir since it had always maintained that the region was illegally occupied by India.
Prime Minister Imran Khan unveiled Pakistan’s new map on Tuesday, showing the entire area of Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan as its territory. The decision was made in response to a similar step taken by India which released its own political map in October last year depicting Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, both territories governed by Pakistan, as being part of India.
The Muslim majority Himalayan valley of Kashmir remains disputed between the two South Asian neighbors since 1947. Both claim it in full but rule only parts of it. Both countries have also fought at least two full-scale wars over the territory, making the world community describe the region as a potential nuclear flashpoint.
Last year, India revoked the special status of the disputed Himalayan region’s autonomy.
“By issuing this map, Pakistan has exercised its executive authority to document its position regarding its territorial dispute with India,” Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a top Pakistani expert of international law, told Arab News.
He said that Pakistan’s action was well within the framework of international law and in keeping with the relevant United Nations resolutions promising plebiscite in the region.
“Pakistan has also reiterated its stance [through the map] that India’s illegal annexation of occupied Kashmir through last year’s presidential decree is not recognized by it,” he said, adding that territorial claims over disputed regions could be exercised through legislation, executive action and judicial pronouncements.
“Pakistan’s decision to use the executive authority in this case may also be followed by its legislative action,” he said.
Soofi said the new map would help Pakistan contest its case over Kashmir at international forums, including the UN.
“Maps are not without sanctity and significance in international law and global litigation over territorial disputes,” he said.
Pakistan’s foreign office said the new map was “essential for firmly rejecting the political map issued by India” last year, adding that New Delhi had made “false territorial claims on Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.”
“The political map emphatically reasserts Pakistan’s stated position [on Kashmir],” Aisha Farooqui, the foreign office spokesperson, told Arab News.
“Pakistan’s consistent stance on Jammu and Kashmir, anchored in the United Nations Security Council resolutions stipulating that the accession of the state will be through a UN-supervised plebiscite, is further reinforced as the map reaffirms this position,” she said.
The country’s largest opposition party in parliament, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), also endorsed the new map while urging the government to utilize all international avenues to get the dispute resolved peacefully.
“The government should clarify if it will be using the same map at international forums like the UN, or is it just for domestic consumption,” Muhammad Zubair, former governor of Sindh province and a senior PML-N leader, told Arab News.
He said that Pakistan should circulate the new map among all the embassies and international forums to tell the world about its position on the disputed territory. “The new map will be useless if it is only for optics,” Zubair said. “Let’s see how the government proceeds ahead with it.”
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, an Islamabad-based academic and expert in international relations, termed Pakistan’s decision to unveil the new map a “wise move.”
“This is a complete map of Pakistan showing our rightful claim over the disputed Kashmir region,” he said, “though it only seems to be for domestic consumption at the moment.”