Round Table Discussion with Mohsin Dawar and the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement

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Ambassador Husain Haqqani at Hudson Institute hosted a round-table featuring Mohsin Dawar, a Member of the Pakistani National Assembly. As a leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, Mr. Dawar spoke about the difficulties the Pashtun people face in their region of North Waziristan, from both the federal government and from militants in the area.

While the Pakistani government claims to have “tamed” the areas formerly known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and that its military operations to crush terrorist organizations were a great success, Mr. Dawar presents a much different situation on the ground. Terrorist organizations are still able to conduct terror attacks frequently. Perhaps more disturbingly is that the attacks have transitioned from public area attacks to murders within individuals’ homes. Mr. Dawar believes that the results of the campaign to eradicate these terrorists has not lived up to the claims of success coming from the federal government.  

Mr. Dawar laid out a few demands that the people he is representing have. They demand a proper due process for hundreds of Pashtun people imprisoned without a formal legislative process. He also called to an end of extrajudicial killings of Pashtuns, who often targeted by security forces as “terrorists”. His third demand was the removal of landmines, so people are able to freely walk their land or use a park without a concern for their life. Mr. Dawar’s final demand was improved behavior at checkpoints, as Pashtuns are often harassed while traveling.

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While new President Imran Khan has expressed his support for the tribal areas, Mr. Dawar remains cautious. He believes that the institutions, especially the military, will continue their efforts to attempt to silence the movement and refuse to meet their demands. Despite all these challenges, Mr. Dawar and the PTM are as determined as ever to continue pressuring the Pakistani government to provide them with basic rights. Also in attendance were various members of think tanks, embassies, and media outlets.