PESHAWAR: Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen was arrested and subsequently sent to jail on 14-day remand by a judicial magistrate in Peshawar on Monday.
Police arrested Pashteen from Peshawar’s Shaheen Town in the wee hours of Monday on the basis of an FIR registered against him on Jan 18 in DI Khan on a slew of charges. Later in the day, he was produced before the judicial magistrate amid extraordinary security arrangements put in place at the Judicial Complex.
Police official Shiraz Khan said Pashteen was wanted to DI Khan police on charges, including sedition, hate speech, incitement against the state, and criminal conspiracy. The court will hold a hearing on Tuesday (today) to decide whether a transitory remand can be granted to shift Pashteen to DI Khan.
Mohsin Dawar, a federal lawmaker from North Waziristan tribal district, confirmed Pashteen’s arrest. “He has been charged in many cases, including sedition,” said Dawar, who is associated with the PTM.
Following Pashteen’s arrest, #ReleaseManzoorPashteen started trending on Twitter. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was quick to register his reaction, triggering a scathing rejoinder from Islamabad.
“I am troubled by the arrest of Manzoor Pashteen and his colleagues. I fully echo the concerns raised by Amnesty International in this regard and hope for their immediate release,” he wrote on his official Twitter handle.
“While our region is suffering from atrocities caused by violent extremism and terrorism governments in the region must support and encourage peaceful civilian movements for justice and must avoid any means of force and violence against these movements.
On the contrary, differences with such peaceful movements must be resolved through dialogue and engagement,” he said in another tweet.
In Islamabad, the Foreign Office took strong exception to Ghani’s tweet.
“We have noted with serious concern the recent tweets by President Ashraf Ghani, which are a clear interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs and hence, unwarranted. We believe such statements are not helpful to the promotion of good neighbourly relations between the two countries,” the spokesperson said.
“Pakistan wishes to maintain close and cordial relations with Afghanistan – based on the principles of non-intervention and non-interference and urges the Afghan side to work together for the common objective of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region,” she added.
MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir condemned Pashteen’s arrest at a news conference in Islamabad where they were joined by PkMAP Senator Usman Kakar, former ANP politician Afrasiab Khattak and PPP’s Farhatullah Babar.
They said Pashteen has been arrested despite the fact that Defence Minister Pervez Khattak recently offered to hold dialogue with the PTM in order to assuage their grievances.
“It is strange that the defence minister had offered dialogue to the PTM but [now] the arrest of Manzoor Pashteen is an eye-opener,” Babar said while warning that “political detentions will deteriorate internal security”.