Military Leadership Not The Only Guardians Of Pakistan's Security: Hina Jilani Lashes Out As Ali ...

Military Leadership Not The Only Guardians Of Pakistan's Security: Hina Jilani Lashes Out As Ali Wazir Arrested Again
Member of National Assembly from NA-50 Ali Wazir was arbitrarily arrested from North Waziristan on Monday over charges of hate speech and incitement, two months after release from imprisonment in February. The FIR, made public after the arrest, also nominated Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen and three others.

In a video eye-witness account of the arrest uploaded on Twitter, Wazir's close aide Badshah Pashteen said that the armed forces and FC personnel took Wazir into custody, and did not even allow Pashteen to hand over the parliamentarian's medication to him. He added that Wazir had participated in the sit-in for the release of the three PTM members who are currently detained by the armed forced, but their exact whereabouts or fate have not yet been established. Earlier, Pashteen had tweeted that Wazir was arrested while leaving the village Spalga in North Waziristan.

Ali Wazir FIR

Despite initial reports of Wazir’s arrest, his exact whereabouts are unknown. PTM sources and other political activists told The Friday Times that the MNA could be in Miran Shah, and is likely to be brought to Bannu.

MNA Mohsin Dawar of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) raised the arbitrariness of Wazir’s arrest on the floor of the assembly earlier today. Dawar explained that the modus operandi of Wazir's arrest was that of an "abduction," as the legal requirements of arresting a person were not met. The PTM supporters and political activists The Friday Times spoke to repeatedly stated that the lack of cellular and internet connectivity in North Waziristan also stands in the way of verifying claims about Wazir’s status.

Wazir, an independent MNA and one of the founding leaders of the PTM, was arrested in multiple cases in December 2020, and finally released in made February of 2023. Human rights defender Manzoor Pashteen has multiple active cases registered against him. Two members of PTM Hazrat Naeem and Dr. Hayat, and a tribal elder Dr. Gul Alam are also nominated in the FIR, dated June 18, and registered in New Kurram. Charges mentioned in the FIR include sections 153-A, 504, 505 and 506 of the PPC. Wazir had tweeted on June 17 that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had issued notices to him, Manzoor Pashteen and other PTM workers. By the time of the filing of this story, the copy of this FIA notice has not been made public yet.

Wazir’s wife Mrs. Saira Nawab, who saw the news of his arrest on the news and then got confirmation from relatives, told The Friday Times that the authorities arrest her husband but are eventually unable to prove any criminal conduct. She hopes for his “honorable release like before.” Mrs. Saira stated that she wished Wazir’s ailing mother does not find out about her son’s re-arrest.

The Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Hina Jillani says the PTM’s status as a political entity must be accepted by the authorities. “The military leadership should learn to accept that they are not the only guardians of Pakistan’s security. The [supporters and leaders] of the PTM have the right to choose the issue and the cause on which they base their political struggle. Pakistan’s security apparatus must now recognize that the PTM represents a certain section of the population in the region, where there are very difficult issues to resolve. This antagonism must end now,” emphasized Jillani. Commenting on the nature of the charges against Wazir and PTM leadership, she added that, “people’s criticism is a part of their freedom of expression, and it should never become a reason for criminalizing speech.”

PTM’s data lead Alamzaib Mehsud Khan was arrested in a narcotics case and sent to Dera Ismail Khan’s Central Jail on June 17. PTM is a non-violent civil rights movement which has been campaigning for end to profiling of Pashtun youth, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and landmines since 2018.

The writer is a multimedia journalist and researches human rights abuses. She hosts a show on social justice stories on Naya Daur TV.