US must stop Pak's Pashtun crackdown: Activist

ANI | Updated: Apr 22, 2018 10:29 IST

Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], April 22 (ANI): A United States-based advocacy group, the Voice of Karachi, has requested Washington to exert pressure on Pakistan to stop its alleged human rights violations against the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and other groups representing that nation's ethnic and religious minorities.

Nadeem Nusrat, Chairman of the Voice of Karachi, condemned authorities in Pakistan for refusing to give permission to the PTM to hold a peaceful rally in Lahore.

Describing Islamabad's decision as 'incomprehensible', he asked, "Why were banned religious extremist outfits being allowed to hold rallies in Punjab province very often under the open patronage of the state security forces?"

He also criticized the unwarranted arrests of PTM leaders and activists in Lahore, including women, and demanded their release.

Nusrat said Punjab is a part of Pakistan and every political group has a fundamental, democratic and constitutional right to hold peaceful rallies.

Nusrat asked in a press statement: "How could Pakistani authorities criticize Indian actions in Kashmir when they are subjecting horrible atrocities against their own citizens?".

He further accused Pakistan of carrying out a brutal operation in Karachi since 2013, where enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings are common.

He said thousands of Mohajir youth have gone missing after being taken into custody by Pakistani security forces.

"People of urban Sindh cannot even protest against these atrocities as freedom of speech has been strangulated in Pakistan. Banned extremist outfits are roaming freely in Karachi whereas the genuine Mohajir leadership is not allowed to carry out even routine political activities in urban Sindh. The liberal voices of Mohajirs, Pashtuns and Balochs are being crushed with brute state force. This grave situation demands urgent action from the US," Nusrat said.

Hailing the report from the United States Department of States on human rights situation worldwide, Nusrat said this report has correctly highlighted the 'terrible state of human rights affairs in Pakistan.'

"This report merely confirms what the Free Karachi campaign has been highlighting for a while and we now expect the current US Administration to exert more pressure on Pakistan to stop its inhuman actions against the country's ethnic and religious minorities," he added.

The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement or Pashtun Protection Movement was started mainly by young Pashtun activists who are demanding an end to what they say are human rights violations by Pakistan authorities in the country's tribal regions.

They have been calling for the removal of military checkpoints in tribal areas and an end to "enforced disappearances" in which suspects are detained by security forces without due process. (ANI)