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HRW calls for transparent probe into Pashtun activist's death

ANI | Updated: Feb 17, 2019 04:20 IST

New York [USA], Feb 17 (ANI): The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for a transparent investigation into the death of Pashtunactivist Arman Luni, who died during a sit-in protest in Balochistan earlier this month.

Luni, a senior leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), lost his life on February 2 during the protest in Lorelai district in Balochistan province.

While the police said that Luni died due to cardiac arrest following clashes between them and the protestors, PTM workers claim that he was tortured to death in police custody. Balochistan's chief minister has initiated an investigation into his death.

Pakistani officials should recognise the country’s diversity as a strength and not a weakness. The government should listen to and engage the concerns of the country’s many communities and allow for peaceful expression of dissent. As a start, the authorities should ensure the investigation into the death of Arman Luni is effective and transparent,” HRW Asia Director Brad Adams wrote in his article on Friday.

Most of the Pashtun Pakistanis reside in the region previously known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a strife-torn area which has seen numerous Taliban attacks and military airstrikes.

The PTM has been staging several demonstrations in Pakistan and across the world to highlight the alleged human rights violations by the Pakistan Army and ISI, which have led to disappearances, displacements, bombardment, and extrajudicial killings of ethnic Pashtuns in Pakistan.

The Pashtun-based party also vociferously protested against the alleged extrajudicial killing by police of Naqeebullah Mehsud, a local shopkeeper and an aspiring model in Karachi in January last year. However, authorities cracked down on the agitations and filed criminal charges against the PTM workers.

Last May, Pakistan's Parliament approved a constitutional amendment merging the tribal areas with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and extending constitutional protections to the deprived people living in the tribal areas, according to the article.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who came to power in August last year, formed a taskforce to oversee the integration of the tribal areas in the province.

The cricketer-turned-politician, who has been vocal about the people residing in the tribal areas throughout his political career, approved a draft law criminalising enforced disappearances in January this year, which was one of the key demands raised by the PTMto redress the grievances faced by the ethnic Pashtuns. (ANI)