Sindhsamaachar Monitoring Desk
Islamabad: Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said while addressing a wide-ranging press conference at the General Headquarters in which he talked about the recent tensions with India and issues of national security, the head of the military’s media wing also suggested that the PTM had received funding from Afghan and Indian intelligence services. “We want to do everything for the people [of tribal areas], but those who are playing in the hands of people, their time is up. Their time is up,” Maj Gen Ghafoor said, referring to the PTM. “But the instructions of the army chief will be fully followed. People will not face any sort of problem and neither will any unlawful path be adopted,” he said, suggesting possible action against the PTM. “Everything will be done lawfully.” “You have enjoyed all the liberty that you wanted to,” he said, addressing the PTM leadership. PTM is a rights-based alliance that, besides calling for the de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement in the latter, has insisted on an end to the practices of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and unlawful detentions, and for their practitioners to be held to account within a truth and reconciliation framework.
The ISPR chief individually responded to the demands made by the PTM at its rallies and meetings. “When we took action against the TLP (Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan), people said that why is action not taken against PTM as they speak up too much as well. “The first person to engage with them [PTM] was me. I was told to engage with them by the army chief and I was given one order by the army chief: ‘Do not use a harsh hand with them.’ “I met with [PTM leader] Mohsin Dawar, and they had three demands: They said that mines and unexploded bombs still exist [in tribal areas] […] Their demand was genuine, we created 48 teams and 45 per cent of these areas were cleared. [As many as] 101 casualties of the Pakistan Army also occurred in those areas while clearing them of those mines. We let those casualties happen as they happened in the line of duty. “Their [PTM’s] next demand was about clearing away checkposts. Pak Army has lost thousands of soldiers at these checkposts.
“The issue of missing persons was their third demand and they created a list of those missing persons. The list has shortened to 2,500 cases today and the [missing persons] commission is working day and night to resolve those cases. “These demands were not even their PTM’s demands, the demands are of the people that live there. “On the PTM website, they have got a number that states the amount of funds they have collected from Pashtuns around the world. But tell us how much money did you get from the NDS (Afghan National Directorate of Security) to run your campaign? How much money did RAW (India’s Research and Analysis Wing) give you for the first dharna in Islamabad? “[Superintendent of Police] Tahir Dawar is killed in Afghanistan, in what capacity did PTM talk to the Afghan government, and say that the [Pakistani] government should not be handed the body and the body should only be given to the Dawar tribe? “Why did NDS give you funds for Arman Loni’s funeral and the dharna that followed? If you have these funds, why do you not use these funds for the development?
“When Arman Loni died, funeral prayers were offered for him in Afghanistan. But how is it that when 10 policemen lost their lives trying to protect 800 students giving police entry exams [in Balochistan], you did not go to the namaz-i-janaza for those 10 men. And no namaz-i-janaza was held for those 10 men in Afghanistan. “When Loni died, the Afghan prime minister gave a statement in his favor and you [PTM] endorsed it. “Those people who are playing with the people whose issues they have brought forward, I would like to tell them that their time is up. Their time is up. “I would like to ask the PTM to provide me another list — besides the one of the missing persons — of all the strength of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that exists in Afghanistan, so that I could tally the two to see if any of the missing persons are actually sitting there [in Afghanistan]. He then delivered a message in Pashto to the Pashto-speaking people, urging them to not be provoked by the “anti-state forces”.