Manzoor Pashteen handed over to DI Khan police: Balochistan minister

Balochistan caretaker Minister for Information Jan Achakzai said on Tuesday the provincial government had “safely handed over” Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen, who was arrested in Chaman a day earlier, to Dera Ismail Khan police.

Pashteen was taken into custody by Levies and police personnel from the Gudhamo area on disputed claims of firing by his party and local police.

Chaman Deputy Commissioner Raja Athar Abbas had said the PTM chief was arrested after gunshots were fired at police from his vehicle. He said that the arrest was in connection with the firing as well as a ban on Pashteen’s entry into Balochistan.

Meanwhile, the PTM had alleged that law enforcement agencies fired at Pashteen’s vehicle when he was on his way from Chaman to Turbat.

In a statement issued today, Achakzai said Pashteen had been expelled from Balochistan after the arrest and handed over to DI Khan police.

The minister refuted the PTM’s claims of firing on Pashteen, alleging that the latter’s bodyguard had opened fire in front of the Chaman Press Club, in which a woman and a child were injured.

Achakzai claimed that youth and civil society members in Balochistan had demanded that the PTM be banned. “Through social media and other sources, people are declaring the PTM a terrorist organisation,” he said.

“The provincial government is closely viewing this situation and will take a strict decision if the need arises,” the information minister said.

“The Balochistan government is mulling a ban on PTM in the province,” he said.

Achakzai further noted that Pashteen entered Balochistan despite a ban imposed on his entry to the province and had been speaking at protests in Chaman.

Last week, Pahsteen announced his intention to join the protest against the alleged extrajudicial killing of Balaach Balaach Mola Bakhsh in Turbat.

The protest has been going on for more than a week after CTD claimed to have killed Bakhsh, along with three other men, in an alleged encounter on November 24.

Yesterday, Achakzai also called the PTM “an anti-Pakistan organization.”.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said it was “alarmed” at Pashteen’s arrest.

It said it was “clear PTM’s leaders and supporters have been harassed continuously for what the state erroneously deems ‘anti-state’ activities”.

“Indeed, the PTM has never resorted to violence and has merely exercised its right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. HRCP demands an impartial inquiry into Pashteen’s arrest. The state must also cease its unwarranted antagonism against the movement’s leaders. Their legitimate grievances must be heard fairly,” it said.