SWAT: A young man has claimed that he was stopped from bringing Pakistan’s flag to the venue of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement’s rally in Swat on Sunday.
The video of the man being prevented to enter the venue with the flag has since gone viral, drawing criticism from all quarters. The footage shows an adamant Toor Khan struggling to bring Pakistan’s flag inside the rally ground.
— خانہ بدوش (@Wuzgar) April 29, 2018
Toor released a video giving his account after the incident and said that he tried to attend the PTM rally with the national flag but was dismayed when he was stopped at the entrance by an “organiser”, wearing a surgical mask, barred him from entering the rally with Pakistan’s flag. Accompanied by friends, Toor managed to bring the flag inside later.
“I was stopped at the gate and told I could not bring the flag inside. I told them that the land and flag belong to Pakistan and I will carry it inside.”
When asked why he was carrying the flag, Toor pointed out that the country and flag were his and he would obviously wave it. He claimed further that on camera the organiser appreciated him and stated that he had the right to wave the flag but once the camera was off, the organiser advised him to fold and stow the flag. “It may cause unrest,” Toor quoted a PTM organiser as saying.
“For the first time, I felt that I was on someone else’s land – a land where I could not identify myself. I felt like an outsider in my own country,” the youth said in the video.
“I am a victim of the crisis that hit Swat. My father was kidnapped and killed by the Taliban,” recalled the Swat resident. Reiterating that he shared the same grievances as PTM, Toor responded to the people showing reservation on his criticism of the gathering by clarifying that he was not against Pashteen, but those with hidden agendas.
The Swat resident also claimed that only 25 per cent of the public in PTM’s rally belonged to Swat. “They were speaking different languages. May be they were from Waziristan or Afghanistan,” he alleged.
“People were looking at me with dagger eyes when I entered the ground with the national flag – except those who were from Swat. I was perplexed.”
However Toor’s claims were rejected by the PTM. Terming it a propaganda, PTM’s Mohsin Dawar stressed that the group had no official policy barring people to wave the national flag.
“Political workers bring their party flags during rallies. Since we do not have a party flag, we symbolically use black and white flags,” he told The Express Tribune. “We did not prevent anyone from carrying the national flag during the rally.”
Dawar said he had posted a tweet of a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader waving Pakistan’s flag during the jalsa. “People were waving the national flag during my speech as well,” he added.
The video, showing organisers’ stopping Toor from entering the jalsa surfaced online, has since irked people all over. Many took to the micro-blogging site Twitter to condemn it.
PTM's demands are for their constitutional rights as enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan & not of any other country.The issue is not the flag.The issue is of the intentions of those who are trying 2 force their version of patriotism on Pashtun youth seeking their due rights
— AGHS Legal Aid Cell, Asma Jahangir's Law Firm (@Asma_Jahangir) April 29, 2018
Abuse Pakistan and ridicule Pakistan’s flag? This is where you cross the line. This is where you are hurting millions of patriots.
This is where you are exposing yourself and This is where We confront you. #ShameOnPTM #PTM #ManzoorPashteen
— M Aftab Maqbool (@ItsAftaab) April 30, 2018
The PTM supporters should have allowed Pakistan Flag in its public gathering at Kabal Swat.There was nothing wrong with it.The PTM is not separatist movement. We support it only becos its struggle is peaceful and its demands are within constitutional framework of Pakistan.
— Naeem Miangul (@MiangulNaeem) April 30, 2018